Accepted Paper:

Customs of customs: social production of disorder through order  


Jonathan Marshall (University of Technology, Sydney)

Paper short abstract:

An exploration of the paradoxes of communication and ordering as revealed in the attempts to improve the Australian Customs' computerised integrated cargo system, and the customary magics deployed by management to maintain appearances of order.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the paradoxes in communication and ordering; especially those which are displayed in theories of the 'information society' and in the disorder produced by attempts tor produce order through software. These issues are explored through a study of the attempts to change the Australian Customs' "Integrated Cargo System". It shows how the supposed technical disorder produced expressed social and political divides between the groups involved, epistemological features of capitalist world-view, and disorders inherent in the system of ordering through the application of what I call intensification and compounding. The paper also investigates the allocation of blame, and the ritual magics of management shown in the attempts to explain away chaos as failure and to maintain the orthodox world-view.

Panel P37
World, chaos and disorder