The Logistical Mode of Production: Logistics as a Total Way of Life

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2020

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Abstract

Social and cultural form is being reshaped by the increasing centrality of logistical science to everyday lived experience. Formerly confined to the governance of commodity chains, logistics’ influence has grown into a pervasive social rationality that promotes endless circulation and perpetual uncertainty as inextricable realities of contemporary life. Its ubiquity, I argue, is creating an altogether new global economic system which I call the logistical mode of production. As a planetary system of governance and control, the logistical mode of production operates on many geographical and temporal registers at once. My project thus employs a multi-scalar approach to capture the diversity of spaces and speeds that simultaneously converge to form our new logistical reality. I begin with the largest scale, i.e. the planetary logistical infrastructure that has historically been defined by the global supply chain. Its most significant actor, Amazon.com, has radically restructured commodity chains to service its worldwide retail network and fulfill its promise of rapid on-demand consumption. Beneath Amazon’s reconfiguration of the global supply chain exists what I call the social supply chain. It is defined by on-demand service apps like Uber and Deliveroo, whose platforms redirect logistical media’s governance of commodity circulation to control and coordinate human movement through urban space. As significant conductors of human circulation, mobile platforms not only reshape physical geographies, but restructure individual subjectivity along logistical lines. I therefore conclude my project by analyzing how the logistical mode of production creates individual subjects that embody its ideals of ceaseless circulation, infinite flexibility, and ruthless efficiency.

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Rubinstein, Yair (2020). The Logistical Mode of Production: Logistics as a Total Way of Life. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20922.

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