Spitting in the Salad: Minor Rebellion as Institutional Agency
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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How can a desire for rebellion drive institutional agency, and how is such desire produced? In this paper, we develop a theory of minor rebellion as a form of institutional agency. Drawing from the work of Deleuze and Guattari as well as from notions of social inquiry and the sociology of punk, we qualify and illustrate minor rebellion as a lived-in field of desire and engagement that involves deterritorializing of practice in the institutional field. Three sets of processes are involved: (i) minor world-making, through establishing the aesthetics and relations of an outsider social network within a major field, including the enactment of cultural frames of revolt and radicalism; (ii) minor creating, through constructing and experimenting with terms, concepts, and technology that somehow challenge hegemony from within; and (iii) minor inquiring, through problematizing social purposes and the related experiential surfacing of the desirable new. Minor rebellion suggests a new solution to the paradox of embedded agency by describing institutional agency as shuttling between political contest and open-ended social inquiry, involving anti-sentiments, but also being for something. The paper also contributes to recasting institutional agency as a process resulting from emergent collective action rather than preceding it. To illustrate our theorizing, we describe the emergence of Robin Hood Asset Management, a Finnish activist hedge fund. At the end of the paper we discuss how minor rebellion raises new questions about the multiplicities and eventness of desiring in institutional agency.