Response – Postscripts on Societies of Control

May 9, 2012

In the text Postscripts on Societies of Control, Deleuze describes how the disciplinary society has transformed into a society of control. He also describes the changes of capitalism in relation to this transformation.

The sites of confinement in the disciplinary society, described thoroughly by Foucault, are breaking down, in favor of another type of domination, that might be just as harsh as its predecessor. Control societies are taking over.

Deleuze defines the difference between societies of discipline, and societies of control, when he writes that confinements are molds that made for instance the the workers in a factory into a body of men that could be monitored by the management, and that the trade unions could organize. Control on the other hand is rather a modulation, where the workers in factories are set up to compete with each other. It is turned into a business.

The text goes on to discuss the new ways of capitalism, that is more directed towards metaproduction, and the selling of services. Companies no longer buy raw material and make finished products, but instead they buy already finished products, or assemble products from finished parts.

So what are the consequences of the shift towards a control society? Deleuze ends by asking wether the trade unions still have a role in a control society, as they historically struggled against disciplines. They organized, and fought for the rights of, a mass of people, so how can they deal with a society that is more individualistic, and global? Organizations and associations formed by sites of confinement need to take on new roles and forms to be able to respond to new questions in societies of control. I began to think about the movements active in the end of the nineties, and the riots in Gothenburg during the EU summit in 2001. Perhaps these were a different kind of movements, responding to a more free floating global control society rather than one of discipline?

In looking at Bygdegården, being a movement that emerged in a disciplinary society, I would be interesting to investigate what role it plays today. How is it affected by the control society? Can it be that it is more difficult to organize community spaces in the countryside of Sweden in a time where the individual is more important than the collective, and in a time where urbanization is making rural sweden even more sparsely populated?

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