Towards the Gigantic: Entification and Standardization as Technologies of Control


  • Jens Røyrvik University of Science and Technology , NTNU, Social Research, Trondheim, Norway
  • Petter G. Almklov University of Science and Technology , NTNU, Social Research, Trondheim, Norway



Entification, standardization, work, risk, the gigantic, information infrastructures


This paper is based on studies of how standardized entities work as elements in a regime to control risk and hazardous work. Drawing on empirical examples from the petroleum industry and infrastructure sectors, we illustrate not only the mechanisms by which particular modes of entification are involved in regimes of control but also their shortcomings and seductive powers as representations. We show how the world is semantically captured and organized to consist of controllable standardized entities by the organizational regimes in the industries we have studied. This mode of entification is particularly effective in providing transcontextual mobility, as the registered entities can enter the ever-expanding information infra-structures of modernity. Although information infrastructures comprise the standards regulating communication, they commonly materialize in information and communication technologies (ICT) that provide an increasing number of effective and ubiquitous pathways through which standardized semantic signs can move and have effects. This is a core concern in the increasing focus on management by detailed regimes of accountability, measurement and standardization seen in most modern organizations. These developments, combined with the representational shortcomings of the standardized entifications, lead to a movement towards the gigantic. An ever-increasing number of signs with increasingly higher granularity are produced in order to control an ever-elusive non-entified world.


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Theme: Objectification, Measurement and Standardization