Monday, April 12, 2010

Bureaucratic Biopower

Compare this with the bureaucratic regimes imposed within the tertiary system (performance assesment, PBRF, continual justification of work in financial terms etc):

"At the core of Foucault's picture of modern “disciplinary” society are three primary techniques of control: hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment, and the examination. To a great extent, control over people (power) can be achieved merely by observing them. So, for example, the tiered rows of seats in a stadium not only makes it easy for spectators to see but also for guards or security cameras to scan the audience. A perfect system of observation would allow one “guard” to see everything (a situation approximated, as we shall see, in Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon). But since this is not usually possible, there is a need for “relays” of observers, hierarchically ordered, through whom observed data passes from lower to higher levels." (source - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosopy)

Good reference here at k-punk , also Mark Fisher's book Capitalist Realism: is there no Alternative? has a great breakdown of the culture of surveylance in bureaucratic institutions.

7 comments:

King said...

Correspondence wanted?
Really?
Okay.
You seem unable to communicate without using layers of jargon and bureaucratese. (I admit, with many of your posts I don't have a clue what you're talking about.)
Too much time spent in the academy??
I see, among this foreign language, a familiar word: punk.
Punk was direct communication, all pretension gone.
Have a good day.

Ross Brighton said...

King -
Thanks for taking the time to read my work.

If you really want to engage with what I'm saying, I'd be more than happy to explain things, just let me know exactly what your having difficulty with.

Bureaucratese seems like a cheap shot though, so I assume the purpose of this comment is self-satisfying violence, toward someone you don't know, which is less than fair. If this is not the case, then I'd be more than happy to dialogue with with you.

If you read the post, k-punk is the online alias of Mark Fisher, who is a fantastic cultural critic, and writes regularly for WIRE (the UK music mag). However punk rock (as well as it's later incarnations) was often far less than simple - look at Suicide, Siouxie and the Banshees (tell me what "Cities in Dust" or "Christine" are about in plain language); or the Fall, Theoretical Girls, the Birthday Party' or Riot Grrl groups that deply large-scale Feminist and Queer theory.

I suppose it comes down to two things: Complex ideas often can't be expressed without complex language (you wouldn't ask a quantum phyisicist to explain their work in "plain english"); and the concept of writing for an audience. Most of those who read this blog are academics, or read a lot of theory.

As for the shot about "too much time in the academy" - with regard to theory, I'm largely an autodidact. I did my undergrad at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch , NZ; and their very traditional.

Once again I reitterate: if you want dialogue, then you're more than welcome, but if you're going to be dismissive and abusive, I don't have the mental or emotional energy to engage further.

Best Wishes,

Ross

Rachel Fenton said...

Have you read The Prince, Ross?

It's a fave of mine.

I suppose the key to power, or a key, is compliance. If the ruled are being fed they aren't complaining of hunger.

Great post.

Ross Brighton said...

I haven't, I have to admit - I may have to. Discipline and Punish is well worth reading (Foucault), and we've been looking at Agamben and Mbembe in my theory class - Mbembe is very thought provoking. If you're interested, the paper is called Necropolitics - I can give you the full citation too if you want it.

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks - the citation would be good. I have (irregular) access to a university library and could get that online. Thanks

Ross Brighton said...

even better - found a copy online w free access. It's called Necropolitics, not Necropower (that's the recasting of Foucaultian biopower he deploys). I hadn't been to this site before, but it looks like it might be worth trawling - there's probably stuff on/by Agamben, and he's worth looking into to if you're interested in this kind of thing - even if it's just reading the entry in the Cambridge (i think) encyclopaedia of philosophy (also free access).

On another note, if you're interested in queer/gender theory, check out Lauren Berlant - she's amazing. Another theorist I've been studying (just wrote a summary paper on her "Sex in Public" - with Michael Warner. Critical Inquiry (Winter 1998).

Rachel Fenton said...

Wow - thanks for all that. Yes, I'm interested - very much so - in gender and queer theory. I've been researching gender and rural identities for my novel, so anything vaguely associated is right up my street!

Will check this little lot out. Thanks again.