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Fernanda Bruno & Paulo Vaz “Types of Self-Surveillance”

April 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Bruno, Fernanda; Vaz, Paulo 2003. Types of Self-Surveillance: From Abnormality to Individuals ’At Risk’. Surveillance & Society 1(3): 272-291.

In fact, any practice of surveillance entails self-surveillance as its historical counterpart and it is this simultaneity that accounts for the acceptance and legitimization of power relations. (273)

Self- surveillance is usually understood as the attention one pays to one’s behavior when facing the actuality or virtuality of an immediate or mediated observation by others whose opinion he or she deems as relevant  – usually, observers of the same or superior social position. But we propose to open the concept to include individuals’ attention to their actions and thoughts when constituting themselves as subjects of their conduct. (273)

Enlarging the concept of self-surveillance also entails assuming that there is no neat line distinguishing power from care. The crucial point is that individuals usually problematize their thoughts and behaviors through beliefs held as true in their historical context. (273)

We contend that self-surveillance does not depend only on an “invisible but unverifiable” power (Foucault, 1979: p. 201), but also on normalizing judgment. (274)

Today, on the contrary, individuals accept restricting their behavior in order to care for the ir health even and principally when they experience well-being. Contemporary medicine is producing the strange status of individuals ‘at risk’ (Lupton, 1995; Ogden, 1995, Novas and Rose, 2000; Petersen and Bunton, 2002), who can be viewed in fact as ‘patients before their time’ (Jacob, 1998: 102). We will thus argue that the alleged amplification of individual capacity to determine the shape of their future constitutes, in fact, a limitation to our freedom. (274)

Although normalizing judgment can be understood as an infra-penalty that partitioned an area that the law had left empty  – the vast domain of gestures, attitudes, quotidian activities, tasks, discourses, uses of time, habits, etc.  – its real novelty resides in the fact that these micro-penalties are not addressed so much at what one does, but at who one is (Foucault, 1979: 178). (277)

This ‘dividing practice’ must not be understood as only something that is imposed from the exterior upon individuals. On the contrary, the classification of each individual along the polarity ranging from normal to abnormal achieves its goal if it is active in the interior of individuals, if it makes them judge and conceive themselves according to this polarity. (277)

Individuals, then, fear potential abnormality not only in others but also within themselves, and thus refrain from doing what would characterize them, in their own eyes, as abnormal. The norm becomes the object of individuals’ desire instead of being only externally imposed. After all, where can the norm extract its value if not from that which it tries to negate? (278)

The greatest values of our society seem to be, in the relation with the self, well-being, prolonged youth, security, self-control and efficiency. These values imply the care of the self, directed towards risk and loss of control as the negativities to be avoided by individuals when thinking about what they can and should do. The problematic internal zone to be surveilled appears to be delimited by the concepts of risk, self-control and pleasure. (281)

The political aspects of risk are not restricted to the allocation of blame; they include creating  new dangers and ‘empowering’ individuals to confront them. (282)

To summarize, as risk works upon the distance between momentary pleasures and the possibility that  these pleasures may threaten the continuity of a pleasurable life, ‘sacrifice’ is aimed at keeping oneself alive and consuming. It is a compromise of sorts, between the instant logic of hedonism and the continuity of consumption, for the only possible reward for moderating pleasure at any given moment is its continued renewal multiplied by an extension of life’s duration. (285)

Until now, a person became ‘sick’ only after symptoms appeared. People would go to the doctor complaining of a few aches and pain. With availability of the data on the genome, future illnesses or risk of illnesses will be revealed… People will become patients before their time. Their condition, their future will be discussed in medical terms even though they feel fine and will remain in good health for years. (Jacob, 1998, p. 102). (287 – Jacob. F. (1998) Of Flies, Mice, and Men. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.)

Life now depends on knowing how to behave in the distance between everything that may happen and what is more probable of happening; it depends on the restriction of possibilities  – and not upon their invention and posterior realization. (287)

As one way of care emerges, it relegates others to historical forgetting. Certain ways of being a subject become historical impossibilities. Besides, each form of the care of the self has its own limits. We have argued that the limits in our way of caring are related to the status of the future. The future as risk functions, in reality, as a restriction to what can be done in the present and it may signify the disappearance of the future as an alterity to the present. The longing for a different life and even the belief in its possibility might be lost in the vicious circle produced by hedonism and security. (288)

Categories: järelevalve, subjekt, võim

Robert Castel “From Dangerousness to Risk”

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Castel, Robert 1991. From Dangerousness to Risk. – Burchell, Graham; Gordon, Colin; Miller, Peter (eds). The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press: 281-298.

The new strategies dissolve the notion of a subject or a concrete individual, and put  in  its  place  a  combinatory  of factors,  the  factors  of risk. […] The essential component of intervention no longer takes  the  form  of the  direct face-to-face  relationship  between  the  carer and the cared, the helper and the helped, the professional and the client. It comes instead  to  reside in the  establishing  of flows  of population  based on the collation of a  range  of abstract factors deemed liable to  produce risk in general. (281)

The examination of the  patient  tends  to  become  the examination of the  patient’s  records  as  compiled  in  varying  situations  by  diverse professionals and specialists interconnected solely through the circulation of individual  dossiers. (281-282)

For classical  psychiatry,  ‘risk’  meant essentially  the  danger  embodied  in the  mentally  ill  person  capable  of  violent  and  unpredictable  action. Dangerousness  is  a  rather  mysterious  and  deeply  paradoxical  notion, since  it  implies  at  once  the  affirmation  of a  quality  immanent  to  the subject  (he  or  she  is  dangerous),  and  a  mere  probability,  a  quantum  of uncertainty, given that the proof of the danger can only be  provided after the  fact,  should  the  threatened  action  actually  occur. (283)

Hence the  special unpredictability  attributed to the  pathological  act:  all  insane  persons,  even  those  who  appear  calm, carry~a threat, but one whose realization still remains a matter of chance. (283)

Such  a  shift  becomes  possible  as  soon  as  the  notion  of  risk  is  made autonomous  from  that  of danger.  A  risk  does  not  arise  from  the  presence  of particular precise danger embodied in a concrete individual or group. It is the  effect of a  combination of abstract factors  which render more  or less probable  the occurrence  of undesirable  modes  of behaviour. (287)

One  does  not  start  from  a  conflictual  situation  observable  in experience,  rather one  deduces  it from  a  general  definition of the  dangers one  wishes  to  prevent. (288)

These preventive policies thus promote a new mode of surveillance:  that of systematic  predetection.  This  is  a  form  of surveillance,  in  the  sense  that the  intended  objective  is  that  of  anticipating  and  preventing  the emergence  of  some  undesirable  event:  illness,  abnormality,  deviant behaviour,  etc.  But  this  surveillance  dispenses  with  actual  presence, contract,  the  reciprocal  relationship  of watcher  and  watched,  guardian and  ward,  carer  and  cared. (288)

What the  new  preventive policies  primarily  address  is  no  longer individuals  but  factors,  statistical correlations  of heterogeneous  elements. […] Their primary aim is  not  to  confront a concrete  dangerous situation,  but  to  anticipate  all  the  possible  forms  of irruption of danger. (288)

1)      The separation of diagnosis and treatment, and the transformation of the caring function into an activity of expertise;

2)      The total subordination of technicians to managers. (290-291)

Instead of segregating and eliminating  undesirable  elements  from  the  social  body,  or  reintegrating them  more  or  less  forcibly  through  corrective  or  therapeutic  inter-ventions,  the  emerging tendency is  to  assign  different  social  destinies  to individuals  in  line  with  their  varying  capacity  to  live  up  to  the requirements  of competitiveness  and profitability.

But  one  has  to  ask  whether,  in  the  future,  it  may  not  become technologically feasible  to programme populations themselves,  on the basis of an  assessment  of  their  performances  and,  especially,  of  their  possible deficiencies.

[…] it would be possible thus  to objectivize absolutely any type  of difference, establishing on the basis of such a factorial definition a differential  population  profile. (294)

The  profiling  flows  of population  from  a  combination  of characteristics  whose collection depends on  an epidemiological method suggests  a rather  different  image  of  the  social:  that  of  a  homogenized  space composed of circuits laid out in advance, which individuals are invited or encouraged  to  tackle,  depending  on  their  abilities.  (In  this  way,  marginality itself, instead of remaining an  unexplored or rebellious  territory, can  become  an  organized  zone  within  the  social,  towards  which  those persons  will  be  directed  who  are  incapable  of  following  more  com-petitive  pathways.) (295)

Jean-Gabriel Ganascia “The Generalized Sousveillance Society”

April 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Ganascia, Jean-Gabriel 2010. The Generalized Sousveillance Society. Social Science Information 49(3): 1-19

Nowadays, many of our contemporaries, especially children and teenagers, are less concerned about privacy and more  about  authenticity  (Manach,  2009).  More  than  anything,  they  fear anonymity and want to be distinguished from others. (4)

If we were in a surveillance society, this type of attitude would have been unconscious and poten-tially dangerous because authorities would have been able to scan all those records and to take advantage of that information to justify their repression of individuals. However, in our contemporary world, those tendencies have a different interpretation, since they are viewed as freedom. (4-5)

In  the  case  of  sousveillance,  the watchers  are  socially  below  those  who  are  watched,  while  in  the  case  of surveillance it is the opposite, they are above. Note  that  the  original  notion  of  sousveillance  promoted  by  Steve  Mann signifies that every watcher would voluntarily give free access to all infor-mation  recorded. (5)

Here, the concept of sousveillance has been generalized to include individuals sharing personal data and anonymous records generated by automatic devices, i.e. security camera systems, video surveillance, CCTV, etc. Accordingly, sousveillance is dependent not only on arbitrary individual wills, but also on the rules by which the automatic recording devices publicly deliver the information they capture. (5-6)

Since those new  techniques  enable  everybody  to  be  a  potential  source  of  information, they appear to promote individual autonomy. (7)

As a consequence, the extension of the sphere of exchanges is now twofold: it has  been  extended  geographically  to  the  entire  planet  and,  from  an  onto-logical point of view, from the world of human beings – and more generally, the world of living entities – to the world of ‘inforgs’.

Surveillance  societies  were  centralized,  based  on  a  hierarchical  social structure, and localized in a physical building. By contrast, the generalized sousveillance  society  is  equally  distributed,  strictly  egalitarian  and  delo-calized  over  the  entire  planet.  In  order  to  examine  in  further  depth  the structure of this generalized sousveillance society, the following sections discuss an architecture that, in contrast to the architecture of the Panopticon, which was designed for surveillance, is made for sousveillance: this is the ‘Catopticon’. (8)

3 principles of catopticon:

– total transparency of society,

–  fundamental equality, which gives everybody the ability to watch – and consequently to control – everybody,

–  total communication, which enables everyone to exchange with everyone else. (9)

Note that the equality apparent in the archi-tecture of the Catopticon, where the central tower is unoccupied, does not mean that power is equally distributed. New groups are imposing their power in the social space occupied by the Catopticon. However, the legitimization of those new powers is very different from those in the Panopticon. In particular, the authority of knowledge is disappearing. (10)

For  instance,  in  the mid-1980s,  one  of  the  first  works  in  computer  ethics,  by  Roger  Mason (Mason, 1986), summed up the computer ethics topics with the PAPA acronym, which stands for Privacy, Accuracy, Property, Access. All four topics can easily  be  understood  with  respect  to  the  characteristic  structure  of  the Panopticon, misuse of which has to be prevented. (11)

In  the  case  of  the  extended  Catopticon,  privacy  is  not  the  first  concern, since the challenge is not to hide, but to emerge from anonymity and to be distinguished  from  among  the  vast  number  of  individuals. (12)

The notion of accuracy refers to those who authenticate information. In the  case  of  the  Panopticon,  the  ethical  challenge  was  to  find  independent accreditation institutions – or persons – who are not involved in the govern-ment.  In  the  case  of  the  Catopticon,  the  question  is  not  exactly  who  –  or which institution – is able to validate information, since everybody is inde-pendent. It is about trust, i.e. about what makes people trust – or distrust – a person or an institution (Taddeo, 2009). (12)

Therefore, while in the Panopticon property referred to the value of information, in the Catopticon, it corresponds to new economic rules, which rely on attention, i.e. on the strategies that help people to retain the attention of their contemporaries and not on strategies that help to sell goods. This raises many ethical questions that we shall not develop here. (12)

The last PAPA topic is access, i.e. the amount and the nature of the infor-mation  to  which  anyone  can  have  access.  In  the  case  of  the  Catopticon, everybody potentially has access to all information. Some questions concern accessibility, i.e. the material possibility to access the Infosphere. (12)

From this standpoint, the social space is no longer a cen-tralized structure orchestrated by a group of authorized persons, i.e. politi-cians enlightened by academics, which is the image of the Panopticon, but is  a  completely  decentralized  environment  where  multiple  social  groups oppose  each  other  and  where  each  one  goes  it  alone.  In  other  words,  thesocial space appears to be organized as a typical Catopticon structure. (17)