Accepted Paper:

'Loungification' and The Boredom of Infrastructure  


Damian O'Doherty (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

We know that airports are implicated in the making of multiple subject positions - passengers, security threats, and consumers - but less well known are the implications of 'loungification' as a new mode of infrastructural use.

Paper long abstract:

Like other infrastructures airports are routinely considered in terms of things like transport, speed, connectivity, flow, efficiency, and passionate 'attachments' to the excitement of international travel. Drawing on a 2½ year ethnography at Manchester Airport, this paper shows that far from Castells' ideal of flow, airport infrastructure is better conceived as an outcome of multiple modes of ordering. One recent mode of ordering is associated with what is called in this study the 'loungification of society' that suggests airports are better conceived as sites of boredom and standstill. We follow the actors and materials brought into being during the construction and management of an 'executive' departure lounge at Manchester Airport that reveals flux and incoherence brought about by antagonistic forces in management and organization. Here we uncover the possible emergence of boredom and unrest in new 'collective' spaces that are perhaps still only on the cusp of being realised. Hence, this loungification remains a future possibility, but it is a future that J G Ballard defined as that which might happen in next 5 minutes.

Panel T006
Infrastructures in practice and in flux