What are societies of control?



last year in April murderer known as the Golden State killer was caught by the police having his DNA information discovered by looking through the databases of GED match a website in which people volunteered their genetic codes in hopes of finding relatives and ancestors the same year in June it was discovered that Facebook's algorithms for advertising categories had included a category for people who might be interested in treason against their government this year in April a tweet went viral when a woman was wondering how an airline at an airport was able to scan her face to determine she had bought a ticket when she had not consented for them to store any facial recognition data what do all of these examples have in common there are all examples of the fact that we live in a society of control in 1990 philosopher Jean de Luz wrote an essay called PostScript on the societies of control we're using a term borrowed from William as burrows he argued that we were entering a new type of society a society of control but to fully understand what this means we first have to know what societies of control are contrasted with namely fucose analysis of disciplinary societies which in turn were contrasted with societies of sovereignty in his book discipline and punish Michel Foucault argued that with modernity came a new type of society which he defined by the way in which such a society exercises power previously in feudal times the West consisted of societies of sovereignty this means that the law was seen as the will of the sovereign typically the king crimes were seen as attacks on the King as infringement upon his will therefore punishments were seen as a matter of revenge revenge on behalf of the king and those typically involved the infliction of direct physical pain but with the decline of feudalism and modernity came a new regime of power the Disciplinary one disciplinary society whether in the school the hospital the factory or the prison made use of three main techniques hierarchical observation normalizing judgment and the examination first people are hierarchically ranked with the purpose of observing everyone's behavior a significant function is carried out even by just the thought that you might currently be under observation when you're at a store and you see a camera there doesn't even need to be someone watching the footage the possibility that someone is watching alone is enough for you to regulate your own behavior as if you are being watched then comes normalization as your behavior is observed it is judged as normal or abnormal and abnormal behavior is discouraged and punished in the old sovereign societies criminal actions were mostly judged on whether they were allowed by the law or not but disciplinary societies also judge whether it's normal and this is done partly by examination whether medical psychological legal educational or moral examination everyone is measured according to common standards and placed into categories according to the results Foucault argues that the reason for the emergence of such a system is that it exercises power much more effectively if you say stole something in a society of sovereignty perhaps you'd be flogged or your hand would be cut off as a revenge for stealing however in a disciplinary society by teaching people to regulate their own behavior according to a standard and by inducing the feeling of constant surveillance you make it less likely that someone would want to steal in the first place not only that but in a society of sovereignty if you wanted to rebel against the regime it would be very easy to identify who to rebel against namely the king and those carrying out the Kings will in the Disciplinary Society power is dispersed through a number of different institutions and thus harder to resist finally in a society of sovereignty when you see someone being tortured for a crime it is easier to sympathize and feel sorry for the victim and to rouse your anger against the regime in the Disciplinary society on the other hand institutions present themselves not as punishing but is merely reforming individuals for their own good and are therefore often not even seen as mechanisms of power the way Foucault put it societies of sovereignty tax production and rule on death whereas disciplinary societies organize production and administer life let's take this point by points consider a serf working under feudalism a common arrangement would be that the king owning the land sets attacks for how much of the serfs product he will take for himself however beyond this so long as he produced the required amount many aspects of the production process were actually up to the surf and his family went to work and when to take a break what technique method or tools to use when to eat what to wear what room to be in etc the sovereign regime did not organize production but merely taxed it in a disciplinary society on the other hand production is well disciplinary you are told when to come to work when to take a break when to eat lunch what to wear how to stand how to behave what techniques and methods to use etc etc depending on your line of work almost every aspect of your being can be decided by someone else thus your work is not merely taxed it's organized secondly whereas a society of sovereignty ruled over death issuing death penalties and deciding who dies when they commit a crime a disciplinary Society administers life where it's not just death but birth that is organized and controlled through the study and manipulation of birth to death ratios rates of reproduction the fertility of populations and so on the purpose of a disciplinary society was summarized by de leurs as being too concentrate distribute in space order in time compose a productive force schools hospitals prisons barracks factories and offices all functioned according to this purpose spatial enclosure adherence to a schedule and strict discipline understanding this we can now ask what makes a society of control different but keep in mind that Deleuze is not arguing that we have completely left behind disciplinary societies he saw that we are in the process of transforming into a new one perhaps the most significant thing is that in the society of control the exercise of power no longer requires enclosing people into spaces like the school the factory or the prison disciplinary regimes leave the tied enclosures of space and expand and permi the entirety of society take phones for example it is no secret that your phone collects a lot of data your GPS location audio recordings websites you've been to in apps you've used and it is also no secret that this data is often utilized by governments and corporations what's interesting here is that in the Disciplinary society the exercise of power required to restrict your methods of communication a society of control on the other hand tells you to please by all means have a phone and use it because of the more you use it the more you can be surveilled sampled evaluated and harvested for data as another example take airports that use facial recognition technology something that is becoming increasingly more common the more you fly the more facial recognition data they're able to collect as well as information about your transportation habits where as a disciplinary society has to restrict your movement into tight spaces in order to monitor and observe you a society of control encourages you to expand your movement because it means that there is more data that can be collected while you are going towards disappeared JG vapor is oblah the Doudna to the torrent the levels of film a parisian alpha so digital world who will keep reading my article totally publishers was salvaging they disappear and chili sauce adieu to offer me to topic topic fits morning she said that the methods by which you are controlled and monitored are no longer perceived as methods of control at all but rather as exercises of your own freedom this is what makes societies of control so dangerous and so effective when i buy a phone make a facebook account to do a DNA test use a credit card or go to an airport i am doing all of it by my own volition yet by that very act i'm increasing the power that institutions have over me once it is decided that i have transgressed the standards of some institution it is very easy to then limit my freedom place prohibitions on me and punish me from a distance to an increasing extent we rely on things like electronic cards internet accounts codes and mobile services which can be shut off at any moment thus the exercise of power no longer requires direct physical intervention instead it can be exercised merely through the manipulation of flows of information it is common for people to undermine the extent of this but consider for example the fact that at least in the u.s. your internet service provider collects your browsing data and it is perfectly legal for them to sell it to both corporations and governments the amount of US government requests for private facebook data has been steadily increasing with 34 thousand requests in 2017 85% of such requests were granted by facebook without requiring you to consent or even be informed about it Microsoft Google and Apple also all sent data about their users to the governor each granting more than a half of government requests for such data and it's not confined to social media either as shown by the example of the Golden State Killer if you have relatives who have used DNA testing technology even if distant once there's a high chance that information about your genetic code is available to corporations and governments as well and when I talk about control and power I'm not just talking about being arrested as an enemy of the state all institutions use such data for the purposes of control whether in deciding what product to advertise for you or in deciding whether they should hire you or accept you into a given educational program or even in making legal decisions that pertain to you the significance of such forms of control should not be underestimated but if control no longer requires enclosing people into defined areas what does this mean for institutions like schools workplaces in prisons delicious answer is that whereas in a disciplinary society you passed from one to the other from the school to the barracks from the barracks to the factory and the society of control you reside in several at once at all times not having to leave one to enter another as the loser says just as the corporation replaces the factory perpetual training tends to replace the school and continuous control to replace the examination in the Disciplinary societies one was always starting again from school to the barracks from the barracks of the factory while in societies of control one is never finished with anything the corporation the educational system the armed services being metastable States coexisting in one in the same modulation in the Disciplinary Society because institutions were spatial at least you knew when you left them you know when you've left the workplace and we're able to take a break from work for the day but this is increasingly not the case in a society of control even when you're at home you're expected to continue doing work filling out papers constantly checking your email and watch for updates and presenting yourself as a committed employee even in your personal life especially on social media you never really leave work some examples are summarized in the paper you could clock out any time you like but you can never leave by Peter Fleming and Andre Spicer for example sociologist Gideon Kunda studied a high-tech corporation in the US the study quote revealed that the expectation for long working hours was built into the organization culture and was very difficult to resist once it had been internalized the organization he called Tec attempted to appropriate as much time as possible from organizational members and this could only be done if workers come to actively desire it themselves the tech culture was designed to constitute this desire through various mechanisms of role embracement so that workers would think of themselves as tech employees all the time as a result of this management approach many employees found their family and home life suffered because they gave them more and more of themselves to the firm and experienced burnout role contradiction and other kinds of pathologies indeed even the workers endeavored to maintain some kind of spatial distance many found that work and non-work aspects of social ties are experienced as hard to separate requiring constant definition and redefinition and are never fully resolved and sociologist Catherine Casey studied an electronics manufacturer that had built a high commitment culture KC study concludes that it is not only the personal time of employees that is appropriated by the company but also their identities a process she ominously labels the corporate colonization of the self when this occurs workers become company people even at home and cannot think about anything other than their job and the well-being of the firm many of these employees were classified by Casey as neurotic and obsessive-compulsive because they have allowed the company to erode the idea the boundaries that once separated them from the organization and subsequent burnout as psychic anxiety and contradiction become too intense various phenomena like working from home working for school credit wearing ankle monitors using online doctors a test of the fact that institutions no longer have to spatially enclose people in order to function what counts is that we are at the beginning of something d'leh says in the prison system the attempt to find penalties of substitution at least for petty crimes and the use of electronic collars that force the convicted person stayed home during certain hours for the school system continuous forms of control and the effect on the school of Perpetual Training the course finding abandonment of all university research the introduction of the corporation at all levels of schooling for the hospital system the new medicine without doctor or patient that symbols are potential sick people and subjects at risk in the corporate system new ways of handling money profits and humans that no longer pass through the old factory form Dolan says that we are no longer individuals but dividuals the origin of the word individual means not divisible something that cannot be divided and disciplinary Society consisted of such individuals usually assigned a number in different institutions but in a society of control it is no longer true that we cannot be divided we are constantly divided into demographics marketing samples survey results statistics it is through these aggregates of information that institutions view us the number is replaced by the code what's impressive about de luces essay is how well even in the early 90s it was able to identify the trends that we are even more clearly moving towards today what's important however is not just to identify such trends but identify their dangers and new methods of resistance Deleuze is not saying that societies of control are worse than disciplinary societies or disciplinary societies are worse than sovereign ones there is no need to fear our hope he says but only to look for new weapons many young people strangely boasts of being motivated they request apprenticeships and permanent training it's up to them to discover what they're being made to serve just as their elders discovering not without difficulty the tellers of their disciplines and now I'd like to thank the individuals that support me on patreon one one oh eight four seven seven seven nine eight six four one four eight four four one oh nine eight one seven six two eight zero one two or three six oh seven eight five five oh two two five four six six three two one nine five nine eight two oh seven to nine oh five one oh three nine six six a pronounceable named acid mongrel and of course computer scare brody west chinese with socialist characteristics Clark Fletcher dancing vulture Daniel grimmer Shan Evie Rusk Eddie Mathis Hopkins Edison who are Elliott Rosenstock Ethan Hastings he wigs Finlay dukes lad Jordan Hoke see Justin Armijo jurgen lips cap see Kelly Rankin kicked Thornton butts emblem Malcolm Ian madness Marko packs matte gold quantum computation Rachel Ann Renard Robert seals spaghetti burg 10 DS 1 2 3 Trevor Stevenson Victor van Aveyron FOXO Cooley tired of the times and Zim as well as of course all of these dividuals as well sorry for taking a while to come out with this video a lot of things need to be done this summer is coming if you pledge any amount on my patreon you'll be able to access a Google Drive where I place reading material as well as reading notes that I write for each video to help with learn the ideas presented you'll also be able to vote on what the next video will be and get access to my discord server I hope you have a nice day thank you

23 thoughts on “What are societies of control?

  • I couldn't finish the video. Made it to 15 minutes. Became too depressed and too reminded of my own life.

  • 4:23 I am not so sure about that statement. In old times most of the people were watching criminals getting burned, hanged and tortured but they were still supporting these actions. Even more so than today. Since they were living with an incredible religious propaganda in their every day lives.

  • A pity only 60 thousand people have watched this video. Wonder if others are too busy dealing with the bullshit jumping through hoops we've made each other do to have time for this 'philosophy nonsense'.

  • Consent for facial recognition? So your friends and family and neighbors and coworkers and shopkeepers and passersby aren't allowed to remember your face?

  • We don't live in a society of control. We have too much freedom and not enough responsibility. Both capitalists and anti-capitalists tell us that the most important thing in life is to be free of all external authority. Our political discourse has degenerated into groups of libertarians calling each other fascists. Control is important as long as it's humane. Our prisons should be places of reform and redemption instead of harshness.

  • This… seeeeemed really enlightening, but I'm not sure what to do with it. This is a bad thing, right? It seems at least tangentially Marxist. But what do I do with this knowledge? Should I try to normalize things like masks and hoodies in public? When I greet someone, and they ask me, "so what do you do?" Should I not tell them "I clean printers?" Should I say "I radicalize dissidents" instead? Maybe it's just the irony of a post-modernist philosopher, but I feel like I need a narrative to plug this idea into for me to fully understand it.

  • Brilliant, as usual! Thanks for explaining the distinction between disciplinary societies and those of control. I used to be quite confused about the two!

  • The real question is if whether or not Foucault be trusted. Because most academic historians don't

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *