majoritarian


majoritarian
  ---- by Tamsin Lorraine
  Deleuze and Guattari describe a majority as a standard like 'white-man' or 'adult-male' in comparison to which other quantities can be said to be minoritarian (D&G 1987: 291). Human life in a capitalist society operates on the strata of the organism (various corporeal systems organised into the functioning wholes of biological organisms), 'signifiance' (systems of signifiers and signifieds that interpreters interpret), and subjectification (systems that distribute subjects of enunciation and subjects of the statement - that is, subjects who are speakers, and subjects of what is spoken about). Rather than assume that the subject is somehow prior to the society of which it becomes a member, Deleuze and Guattari take the Foucaultian stance that collective systems of enunciation (these could be compared to Michel Foucault's discursive systems, for example legal discourse) and machinic assemblages (these could be compared to Foucault's nondiscursive systems, for example the bodies, lay-out and behaviours related to the court room) are the condition of the subjects they produce. What counts as meaningful speech is dictated not by an individual subject, but by the systems of 'signifiance' that determine what makes sense in a given situation. What counts as a recognisable subject (to oneself as well as others) is dictated by systems of subjectification that determine a subject's position vis-À-vis others.
  Deleuze and Guattari insist it is the 'axioms' of capitalist society that constitute majorities (D&G 1987: 469). The axioms of capitalism are primary statements that are not derivable from other statements and which enter into assemblages of production, circulation and consumption (D&G 1987: 461). The functional elements and relations of capitalism are less specified than in other forms of society, allowing them to be simultaneously realised in a wide variety of domains (D&G 1987: 454). Whether you are the worker or businessman or consumer depends more on the function you are performing and the relations into which you enter, than who or what you are. This gives capitalism a peculiar fluidity. Deterritorialising flows can be mastered through the multiplication or withdrawal of axioms (in the latter case, very few axioms regulate the dominant flows, giving other flows only a derivative status) (D&G 1987: 462). The operative statements of various regions of the social field (statements concerning, for example, school and the student, the prison and the convict, or the political system and the citizen) constitute the majoritarian elements of a denumerable set. The majoritarian standard constituted through these statements specifies recognisable positions on points of the arborescent, mnemonic, molar, structural systems of territorialisation and reterritorialisation through which subjects are sorted and significations make sense (cf. D&G 1987: 295). Systems of signifiance and subjectification sort social meaning and individual subjects into binary categories that remain relatively stable and render 'minor' fluctuations invisible or derivative. Minorities are defined by the gaps that separate them from the axioms constituting majorities (D&G 1987: 469). These gaps fluctuate in keeping with shifting lines of flight and the metamorphoses of the assemblages involved. Minorities thus constitute 'fuzzy' sets that are nondenumerable and nonaxiomisable. Deleuze and Guattari characterise such sets as 'multiplicities of escape and flux' (D&G 1987: 470).
  From the polyvocal semiotics of the body and its corporeal coordinates, a single substance of expression is produced through the subjection of bodies to discipline by the abstract machine of faciality (a 'black hole/ white wall system'); the fluxes of the organic strata are superseded by the strata of signifiance and subjectification (D&G 1987: 181). The 'white, male, adult, "rational," etc., in short the average European' is the 'central' point by reference to which binary distributions are organised. All the lines defined by points reproducing or resonating with the central point are part of the arborescent system that constitutes 'Man' as a 'gigantic memory' (D&G 1987: 293). The majoritarian standard is thus this 'average' European constituted throughout the social field in its myriad forms through the systems of signifiance and subjectification of various domains.
  Connectives
   § black hole
   § deterritorialisation

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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