This special issue of ephemera aims to investigate contemporary practices of repair as an emergent focus of recent organizing at the intersection of politics, ecology and economy (e.g. Bialski et al., 2015; Perey and Benn, 2015; Wiens, 2013). We wish to explore notions of repair and maintenance as crucial components for redefining sociopolitical imaginaries (Castoriadis, 1987), away from the neoliberal capitalist dogma of throw-away culture and planned obsolescence.What we set out to do in these introductory pages is to convoke repair as a ‘regime of practice’. By this, we wish to gesture towards a Foucauldian analysis and definition of regimes of government as the specific compounds of ‘the rationalities, technologies, programs, and so on that try to influence the conduct of the state – its agencies and agents – and to shape the conduct of individuals and populations within the state’ (Dean and Villadsen, 2016: 21). Repair is not outside of dominant governing regimes and practices, but shaped by them. At the same time, following Foucault, it cannot be defined and determined by extant governing rationalities – there are always scopes for approaching, practicing and organizing repair ‘differently’. In putting together this special issue we were particularly interested in the latter – and we focused our analysis on the potential of repair as a sources of counter-power and ‘counter-conduct’ (Foucault, 2009: 195). We believe that by describing repair as a regime of practice we can highlight how it can be implicated in both rationalities, and thus, through the constellation of repair concepts, figures and gestures, this special issue aims to rethink the way we narrate our relationships with the human-made matters, tools and objects that are the material mesh in which organisational life takes place as a political question.
In this editorial, we articulate a specific position that brings feminist materialist politics as both critique and proposition at the centre of repair matters. We share with other feminist materialist scholars an approach that sees repair matters as embedded conditions of everyday life and social infrastructures, and resists treating them as discrete issues. While repair can potentially be regarded as a characteristic of certain objects, as a moment in an economic cycle, as one aspect of design, or again, as a discrete set of skills, each of these viewpoints taken by itself risks detaching repair as a regime of practice from existing social relations, therefore closing off the political capacities it might engender.
- organisation studies