The title of the dissertation 'The constitution of partnering' refers to the duality that is the central concern of the study. On the one hand, the examination of the emergence and development of partnering and on the other hand the functioning of partnering. Or in other words: the constitution respectively the constitutive effects of partnering. The subtitle 'A Foucauldian analysis of dispositives, space, and order in Danish construction' sharpens the tone and illustrates the special attention on Foucault's dispositive or apparatus as the key to an understanding of partnering.
The dissertation consists of 11 chapters collected in four main parts. In the first part the problem and field of research, analytical strategy and methodological considerations are introduced. Chapter 1 presents the background for the study, and the choice of theoretical frame/analytical strategy is discussed preliminarily. I argue for the appropriateness and applicability of Foucault's concept of the dispositive as a main route to the study of highly polyvalent phenomena if reductionism is to be avoided. In extension hereof a short discussion concerning the implications of following a post-structuralistic analytical strategy is highlighted. In chapter 2 Foucault's concept of the dispositive is subjected to inquiry. It is argued that the dispositive analysis has to be seen as a continuation, rather than a replacement, of Foucault's archaeological and genealogical projects. It is thus shown that Foucault in his work with the knowledge archaeology had more than opened the door for the analysis of the non-discursive – and thus the dispositive. From here on, I focus specifically on the dispositive analysis as a critical historiographic analysis of the dissemination and interplay of social technologies; social technologies understood as ways of regulating the conduct of people. With the theoretical gaze established, in chapter 3 I discuss the implications hereof in relation to my study and the empirical field in general. I discuss the de-ontologisation and deconstruction of the object of the study as a basis for establishing an understanding for how to conduct post-structuralist interviews and field research.
The second part of the dissertation is concerned with the historical analysis of dispositives in Danish construction. Coming from Foucault, the starting point of this exercise is that if we are to establish a critical, rather than a commonsense, understanding of current practices and forms of management and organisation, we have to understand their historical origins. The basis of this kind of thinking is the fundamental realisation, which Foucault shares with Heidegger and Nietzsche that man is historical. Chapter 4 sets the tone for the analysis, which in chapter 5 concentrates on the notion of 'building customs and practices' as the diagrammatical, i.e. the predominant underlying pattern for social interaction, in 'early' Danish construction. In chapter 6, I establish a break and the post-WW2 rationalisation efforts are analysed. Here it is demonstrated how the newly established notion of the construction sector, founded on a technical-scientific rationality, gave rise to a pervasive functional differentiation, in which existing practices, material and actors was subjected to a gaze of normation owing to the normative ideal of the optimal. By drawing on Foucault's notion of the discipline it is shown how the logic of this functional differentiation can be understood as a stratification of time and space; that the unity is planned by arranging the parts and predetermining their actions. We can understand this as an optimisation of the totality through an optimisation of the parts – as an attempt to eliminate contingencies and make the planned happen, as Jensen (2007) would put it. This can be seen in e.g. the laws, materiality, institutions and not least management rationality of the time, where the phase model is argued to constitute the ideal figure of political technology; of the strategic codification of the micro-physical relations of power in the field. In chapter 7, another rupture is established, in that it is argued that we from the 1990s onwards are witnessing a dawning break from stratification as the dominant pattern for social interaction in Danish construction. It is suggested that we instead are facing an acknowledgement of the centralistic unitary-planning's insufficiencies. The problems of coordination that the functional differentiation had constituted as the focus of governance now had to be 'short-circuited' by displacing questions and practices of planning, decision-making and control to the sphere of the practical work. Using partnering as the master-case this development is described as a process, which first and foremost took place by enforcing a so-called logic of exemptions on a politico-institutional level. It is thus demonstrated that the elements or concepts we associate with partnering, e.g. economic incentives, the freedom to choose work partners, conflict resolution models, common activities etc., each and one can be seen as contributing to the 'sidelining' of one or more perceived inconveniences of the so-called stratified sociality. As such, partnering is reconstructed as a nullification of the traditional, or a smoothing out of the stratified space. The implication hereof is, in the first instance, that partnering emerges as a continuous opening of a space for action and attribution of meaning, as actions are not unequivocally pre-determined.
On this basis, the third part of the dissertation inquires into the actualisations of this logic in a specific building project. Two central concepts are treated: space and social order. In chapter 8, the specific project is staged, and in chapter 9, a series of events in the actualisation of partnering is examined, drawing on the notion of space. The basic argument is that on this project, partnering, through the problematisation of hierarchies, actualises a smooth kind of space, which again actualises flexibility, outsourcing of control, and individual responsibility as central means in the handling of social order. Then in chapter 10, I look into what happens when an established, totalising social order is destabilised. It is shown how efforts, as a result of the breaking-down of fixed structures and roles that partnering entails, are directed towards installing individual responsibility and ownership as central governance mechanisms by means of deploying social technologies with normalising effects. The conduct of workshops is described in this light as a social technology that aims at 'programming' the new ideal social order into the conducts of the participants. From here on it is examined how this ideal is sought instigated in the daily sphere of the project through the use of practices of staged co-presence of actors and benchmarking. It is shown how these activities and practices aim at establishing a homogenous platform for action, which parts with the predetermining rationality of the planning-ideal.
Finally, in part four, the conclusions of the study are presented in chapter 11. Here I advance an understanding of partnering as a dispositive that establishes a space for interventions within which local actions are conducted in order to (re-) establish a social order. This takes place in the efforts to handle the tensions between a traditional stratified sociality, with its commonsense qualities, and a 'smooth' sociality in which circulation, self-governance, individual responsibility and ownership are more important than unambiguity, planning and control. Furthermore the relationship between the macro- and micro-physics of power is discussed.