W003
Towards an anthropology of decision making

Convenors:
├ůsa Boholm (University Gothenburg)
Annette Henning (Dalarna University)
Location:
R1
Start time:
29 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

The 'governmentality' of decision-making bridges the private and the public, connecting individual sentiment and desire with structures of social ordering, power, authority and hierarchy. The aim is to explore social and cultural dynamics of decision processes as situated and temporal practices.

Long abstract:

In modern society decision-making is a taken for granted capacity of agency attributed to individuals, persons, and citizens, as well as to various collectives (organisations, companies, nations, or even 'the global community'). Being the neverending modus operandi of governing, the public domain, in planning, administration, policy-making and implementation, revolves around the making of decisions: what decisions to make (or not) and how to make them. In our private lives we are expected to make innumerable choices, and not only what goods and services to consume or what lifestyle to entertain. We are supposed to 'design' our individual style of life and career and choose close relationships, partners or even children. What we are and what we become as persons are constituted by decisions, our own and others. The 'governmentality' of decision-making bridges the private and the public, connecting individual sentiments and desires with structures of social ordering, identity, power, hierarchy and authority. This workshop aims to problematise and explore decision processes. It asks both for theoretical and ethnographic contributions concerning the concept of decision, and decision-making as a situated and temporal process. Contributions that address social contexts, dynamics and tensions of decision-making, and issues bearing on uncertainty and risk in decision contexts are welcomed. Another area of interest is decisions in relation to non-decisions (habits and 'traditional' conduct). Ethnographies from all kinds of social and cultural environments that address decisions and decision-making are welcome.