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SWARM: Flash mobs, mobile clubbing and the city

Kaulingfreks, Ruud and Warren, Samantha (2010) 'SWARM: Flash mobs, mobile clubbing and the city.' Culture and Organization, 16 (3). pp. 211-227. ISSN 1475-9551

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This paper uses the example of the flash mob, and more specifically mobile clubbing, to discuss the potential of alternative, unmanaged processes of organising, enabled by the specific milieu of the city. As such, it places cities – as spaces of concentrated human living and working – firmly at the heart of theorising about organisation as a complex everyday social process, which extends beyond the confines of the more usual unit of analysis – that of commercial or even ‘not‐for‐profit’ activity. Flash mobs are groups of people who congregate in public spaces to carry out incongruous acts and dissipate after a given (usually very brief) period as quickly as they came. They are organised through viral means such as email, text message and word of mouth and take place in (take over?) busy city locations. We are interested in one specific type of act – mobile clubbing – whereby flash mobbers assemble as noted above and dance to music on their own individual iPods/MP3 players – each person (literally) dancing to a different beat but all together, sometimes thousands at a time. Although flash mobbers just have fun and probably do not think much of their means of organising themselves, we think there are several interesting aspects here that are worth reflecting upon, specifically their character as self‐organising unmanaged organisational forms and embodiment of an alternative vision of ‘community’ in urban life. We conclude the paper by considering the political potentiality of such forms of organising within the ‘generative context’ of the city.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: city; community; flash mobs; multitude; organising; space; urban planning
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2013 13:27
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:37

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