This is the abstract of a paper to be published in Socio-analysis this year:
Social media enable individuals to link together to form networks. These networks can cut across the boundaries of existing organisations to disrupt their existing ways of working. Three case examples are used to explore what is put at risk by these forms of social disruption. While existing ways of working may be disrupted, new possibilities may also be created. The paper uses Freud’s distinction between three kinds of identification to show how these disruptions may also evidence identifications of the third kind – identifications that give expression to new possibilities and new desires. The paper draws on a Lacanian understanding of how identification may be mediated by the effects of language. It argues that while identifications of the first two kinds may provide defences against anxiety, identifications of the third kind may provide support for creative responses to anxiety. The conclusion drawn is that in managing the risks of social disruption, individuals must work the relation between ‘above’ and ‘below’ the surface of their working relationships, but they must also work the relation between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the organisation with which they are identified.
The paper considers how the disruptive effects of social media can be understood in terms of Freud’s third identification and its articulation of the Lacanian what-do-I-want (Che Vuoi?).