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Government and (non)event : the promise of control.

Anderson, B. and Gordon, R. (2017) 'Government and (non)event : the promise of control.', Social and cultural geography., 18 (7). pp. 158-177.


Control rooms routinely deal with happenings that might become events. They attempt to hide events and their possibility from the users of infrastructure by undertaking various forms of action to stop events coming to pass. Based on ethnographic research in a motorway control room, in this paper we describe how events are grasped and handled and subject to the effect of control. Focusing on how the promise of control is provisionally achieved through detection–diagnosis–response work, we show how control room action is situated on the ambiguous line between event and non- or quasi-event and involves making happenings that might be or might become events into their opposite: non-events, or routine occurrences. We use the case of the work of control rooms in dialogue with Michel Foucault on the relation between ‘government and event’ and Lauren Berlant on ‘modes of eventfulness’ to challenge the emphasis on the event as dramatic transformation in some current research on securing life and some geographical work on events. Paying close attention to what control rooms do shows the multiplicity of relations between government and (non)event, and invites us to expand the ‘modes of eventfulness’ that social and cultural geographers learn to sense and disclose.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:08 January 2016
Date deposited:17 March 2016
Date of first online publication:06 April 2016
Date first made open access:No date available

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