From Chaux to Google: Consuming Surveillance and the Ambient Powers of Big Data.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Nils ZURAWSKI, University of Hamburg, Germany
The so called ideal city of Chaux, built in 18th century France, represents what has become known since of as panoptic surveillance. Other than in Bentham‘s ideal prison however, surveillance was not only performed through a panoptic gaze, but by control of the inhabitans' everyday life, i.e. by controlling their consumption, regualating their possibilities in a small and easy to overlook environment.

250 years later such environments have vanished, but not the idea to control the possibilities of citizens via their role as consumers. But as much as this means to track what we consume, it also means that we must consume surveillance, i.e. surveillance becomes part of our consumption habits, becomes a good in itself. Hence surveillance as "big data" becomes ambient, an integral part of our lives, maybe a feature of distinction, if to be surveilled may mean to be especially cared for.

Exploring the consequences of what it means when surveillance ceased to be a distinctive practice of power, but becomes an item of consumption, I want to look at the following questions:

- If we consume surveillance, how is power organised and can it be made visible?

- If power means to manage norms and possibilities, how can this be observed under the conditions of consumerism?

- What does it mean for social justice, when surveillance separates and sorts populations, not necessarily implying that being under surveillance is a condition of the powerless.

- Introducing the concept "Consuming Surveillance" I want to discuss how life chances are affected under the dispositive of the „good life“, eventually stripping citizens of their rights and rendering them into powerless consumers.

So has Google become the new Chaux, albeit much more ambient and with less obvious control mechanisms, i.e. by seemingly free and unlimited choices of the same?