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21 NOVEMBER 2005

Tactical Behaviour Vs Strategic Planning

"I call a 'strategy' the calculus of force–relationships which becomes possible when a subject of will and power (a proprietor, an enterprise, a city, a scientific institution) can be isolated from an 'environment.' A strategy assumes a place that can be circumscribed as proper (propre) and thus serve as the basis for generating relations with an exterior distinct from it (competitors, adversaries, 'clienteles,' 'targets,' or 'objects' of research). Political, economic, and scientific rationality has been constructed on this strategic model.

I call a 'tactic,' on the other hand, a calculus which cannot count on a 'proper' (a spatial or institutional localization), nor thus on a borderline distinguishing the other as a visible totality. The place of a tactic belongs to the other.[20] A tactic insinuates itself into the other's place, fragmentarily, without taking it over in its entirety, without being able to keep it at a distance. It has at its disposal no base where it can capitalize on its advantages, prepare its expansions, and secure independence with respect to circumstances. The 'proper' is a victory of space over time. On the contrary, because it does not have a place, a tactic depends on time–it is always on the watch for opportunities that must be seized 'on the wing.' Whatever it wins, it does not keep. It must constantly manipulate events in order to turn them into 'opportunities.' The weak must continually turn to their own ends forces alien to them. This is achieved in the propitious moments when they are able to combine heterogeneous elements (thus, in the supermarket, the housewife confronts heterogeneous and mobile data–what she has in the refrigerator, the tastes, appetites, and moods of her guests, the best buys and their possible combinations with what she already has on hand at home, etc.); the intellectual synthesis of these given elements takes the form, however, not of a discourse, but of the decision itself, the act and manner in which the opportunity is 'seized.'"

(Michel de Certeau, 2011)

Michel de Certeau (2011). "The Practice of Everyday Life", University of California Press; 3rd Revised edition edition (11 Nov 2011).

[20] The works of P. Bourdieu and those of M. Détienne and J.–P. Vernant make possible the notion of "tactic" more precise, but the socio–linguistic investigations of H. Garfinkel, H. Sacks, et al. also contribute to this clarification. See notes 9 and 10.

[Michel de Certeau makes a distinction between 'top–down' strategic planning and structure that impose a 'proper' place and behaviour upon subjects of power – for example, the classical score is the proper score, everything mapped out (or at least, that's what the powers that be think – the conservatorium that I was trained in though that all the musical content of a work was IN and ONLY IN the static permanent score, fuck the temporary sounds and performances – logos). Whereas, tactical behaviours comes from the 'bottom–up', guerrilla style, in which there is no proper place for things, no condensation of activities into discursive or commercial commodities. Shit happens is kind of what it means. Improvisational, tactical ways of operating that aren't solely bounded by strategies from above. This is the political potential of Jazz, freeing up listeners and performers to be with the immediate moments of sound and play. What is tactical planning and tactical structure then? It must be a minimal way in which to encourage guerrilla behaviour without denying it. Blogging and Picture communities on the net might be examples, but think then of how corporates try to take over this spontaneous communal grass–roots activity and commodify it (Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum tried to market themselves through a corporate blog about how fictional 'Fred' loved it some much and found many tactical uses for it beyond chewing it). When Jazz improv becomes codified and taught/assimilated into conservatorium schools, then it loses its purely tactical nature and becomes strategic. Which perhaps is always going to be the case if we agree with Guy Debord that the strategic Spectacle will always come to incorporate the tactical interventionist Fringe.]

TAGS

Edward Laumann • Erving Goffmanfragmentary • guerrilla style • Guy DebordHarold GarfinkelHarvey Sacks • has on hand • Jean-Pierre Vernant • Jeremy Boissevain • Joshua Fishman • Marcel Detienne • Marcel Mauss • Michel de CerteauPierre Bourdieuproper • propre • scientific rationalitystrategic modelstrategytactictactical behaviourtactical engagement • victory of space over time
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