Control Societies and the Uniform of Confinement

May 7, 2012

“Individuals are always going from one closed site to another, each with its own laws: first of all the family, then school, …then the barracks…, then the factory, hospital from time to time, maybe prison, the model site of confinement.” (1)

An important part of the organization and confinement of major sites is the role of the uniform. It is a classification instrument which ranges from the uniform used in schools, to the ones used in department stores and banks, the white coats of the hospital, the neat scarfs of the air stewardess, the factory workers overall and the colour of the prison inmates uniform. These are what one might say ‘the old suit’ of confinement, a visual means of confining people.

The new surges of individualism, personal responsibility for your own faith and a greater disbelief in systems also calls for a new uniform. The answer from capitalism is the instilment of hunger for material things and for shopping, the hunger does not get replaced by satisfaction even when the money runs out, through the invention of credit cards the hunger continues; and hereby capitalism aids man in creating his own uniform of confinement. It seems that the new suit of confinement is in fact the invisible suit of debt.

“Control is short term and rapidly shifting, but at the same time continuous and unbounded, whereas discipline was long-term, infinite, and discontinuous. A man is no longer a man confined but a man in debt.” (2)


– Sofie Andersson


1 – Gilles Deleuze, ‘Postscript on Societies of Control’ in Negotiations: 1972-1990, New York: Columbia University   

     Press, 1995, p. 177.

2 – Ibid., p.181.




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