Flows, friction and the sociomaterial metabolization of alcohol


Political ecologists have considered the sociomateriality of diverse hybrids and the metabolism and circulation of urban flows such as water, food and waste. Adding alcohol to this list enhances our understanding of the geography of alcohol as well as the theory of sociomateriality. Viewing alcohol as a sociomaterial hybrid draws attention to the power-laden, dynamic processes which shape its flow, rather than considering it as already in place. Additionally, my examination of alcohol calls attention to aspects of sociomateriality which are widely relevant but underexplored in the literature: the role of friction in shaping flows; the need to examine microscale impacts of sociomateriality on the body and community; and the conditional impacts of complex, unpredictable sociomaterial hybrids. I use a case study of alcohol in Cape Town to examine how alcohol flows, encounters friction, flows over boundaries and shapes sociability and harm in complex, indeterminate ways.


Lawhon, M. Flows, Friction and the Sociomaterial Metabolization of Alcohol. Antipode (2012) : [DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8330.2012.01028.x]

Flows, friction and the sociomaterial metabolization of alcohol

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