“What drives your own desiring machines?” Early twenty-first century corporatism in Deleuze-Guattarian theory, corporate practice, contemporary literature, and locavore alternatives

  • Author / Creator
    Talpalaru, Margrit
  • This dissertation identifies and investigates the characteristics of the early 21st-century social, economic, and political situation as intrinsically connected and grouped under the concept of corporatism. Starting from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s schizoanalysis of capitalism, this thesis argues that corporatism or corporate capitalism is immanent: an interconnected, networked, rhizomatic system that has been successful at overtaking biopower – life in all its forms, human and otherwise – and managing it, or even making it its business. Methodologically, this dissertation aims to move beyond negative into creative critique, whose role is the uncovering of imagined or real alternatives to the problems of corporatism.
    Consequently, this dissertation is divided into four chapters that attempt to bring this methodology to life. Chapter 1 presents the theoretical basis of corporatism, modeled on the theories of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Chapter 2 begins to exemplify corporatism by investigating three corporate examples. This chapter sheds light on the real-life functioning of three corporations, Hudson’s Bay Company, Walmart, and Unilever, while also connecting them to the theoretical genealogy of human social systems described by Deleuze and Guattari. Chapter 3 turns to literature as both a diagnostician of the contemporary corporatism, as well as an imaginative solution-provider. While not instrumentalizing literature, this chapter rather looks to three novels for both descriptions of the corporatist social machine and prescriptions on how to attempt to change it. The novels featured in this chapter are aligned with the creative critique methodology: from the negative and even reactionary critique of William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, through the problems with the contemporary episteme illustrated by Margaret Atwood’s dystopic Oryx and Crake, to the alternative outlined by Scarlett Thomas in PopCo. Chapter 4 investigates real-life experiments in order to assess their viability in altering the present conditions of life. To this end, the last chapter couples theoretical Deleuze-Guattarian alternatives with two locavore books: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver, and The 100-Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2011
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.