Disobedient Things

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Accounting for Disaster

  • David Troy Cochrane York University
Keywords: capital, value, accumulation, disaster, crisis, things


Analysis of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the accumulatory decline of BP demonstrates both the analytical efficacy of the capital-as-power approach to value theory, and the irreducible role of objects in the process of accumulation. Rather than productivity per se, accumulation depends on control of productivity. Capital as power focuses on capitalization as an expression of the assessment by owners of their own power. In this article, I argue that the power of owners translated into capital values is over both the human and non-human components of systems of production. Power is actualized through entities defined as cultural and political, as well as economic. Capitalization translates the irreducible social order – including objects – that bear on accumulation into commensurable units of capital. The decline of BP’s capital valuation in the wake of the disaster expressed the market’s falling confidence in the obedience of the entities that bear on its profits, including the things that comprise the company’s productive capacity.

How to Cite
Cochrane, David Troy. 2020. “Disobedient Things”. Valuation Studies 7 (1), 3. https://doi.org/10.3384/VS.2001-5992.2020.7.1.3.