5 stars based on
In Liquid Surveillancethe theorist of liquidity, Zygmunt Bauman, and the perhaps the preeminent theorist of surveillance, David Lyon, apply their unique perspectives to social media. In any case, this post has more of my own ideas than would be appropriate for a journal review.
It convincingly presents a theoretical paradigm, a theorizing of the web from a unique, historical, and critical framework, often lacking in the larger discussions around technology and market liquidity foucault panopticon. The title of the book highlights two themes, each deeply indebted to the authors of this volume.
Bauman has since applied the thesis to many realms, including lovelifefeartimeand much else. Here, the concept is applied to surveillance, under the expert hand of David Lyon, resulting in an illuminating volume that opens many conceptual doors, and, at times, leaves readers, or at least me, wanting much more. Liquid surveillance is described as a softer form of surveillance, especially found in a consumer realm that spreads in unimaginable ways, spilling out all over.
Surveillance has become less attached to spatial observation e. The liquid surveillance perspective is indeed useful for understanding many technological developments; however, it is a little strange that drones and social media are tackled together in the first market liquidity foucault panopticon. This is the market liquidity foucault panopticon chapter in the book and each topic probably deserves its own take, however, market liquidity foucault panopticon are brought together seemingly because they are both new topics.
However, this arrangement and the subsequent discussion downplays the deep theoretical divergence between how a liquid surveillance perspective should differently understand drones and social media. For example, the Facebook user is both voyeur and exhibitionist while much of the drone discussion is about seeing without being seen.
Much, but not all, of the observation on Facebook is social, peer-to-peer, while drones are largely the powerful few watching a less powerful many. Ultimately, Bauman argues that people joined Facebook for two reasons: Market liquidity foucault panopticon brings Simmel and Foucault into the discussion of user privacy on social media, the former to point out that our relationship with others is determined by what we know about them and the latter to view Facebook as like a confessional where inner-truths are revealed.
Foucault thought that people would take an active role in their own surveillance, a trend that Facebook dramatically illustrates though, with the difference that the premodern confession was mostly private while Facebook is much more public.
This leads Bauman to conclude that we have built a confessional society where publicity is both virtue and obligation. Bauman also fruitfully draws from his previous work on consumerism to argue that consumer society has taught us to treat ourselves as a commodity, an attractive one as possible, and social media is precisely about getting the attention needed to stay in the game of socializing.
They are, at the same time, the merchandise and their marketing agents, the goods and their traveling salespersons With this introduction, let me move to three provocations towards the development and application of a theory of liquid surveillance and social media.
Bauman specifically argues that privacy, the foremost invention of modernity, had invaded and conquered public realm, and has now, as a consequence of market liquidity foucault panopticon Web, begun to fall. There has been a rise in publicity, but there has been no end to privacy.
People still think, feel, and do things without them being fully-captured. Because of the rise in publicness, people are using privacy settings, and in some cases, have become more secretive. This sort of totalizing forgets the dialectical interplay of forces—here with privacy and publicity—that post-structural and postmodern theorists have pointed out in critique of modern grand theorizing. Perhaps the biggest impediment for many surveillance theorists trying to take on social media is the bias towards describing only how the powerful surveil and control the masses with little attention to how the masses, digitally connected, surveil each other more and more.
Tracking scanners, Google recording your browsing history, credit card company databases, automatic toll-collecting on tollways, drone cameras, most the examples that drive the analysis in Liquid Surveillance are about how the few watch the many. As is repeated in the book on many occasions, the model of power that holds today is less of coercion and more one of seduction. This may be a better model of surveillance within consumer society, where, for market liquidity foucault panopticon, the many television consumers watch the few cultural gatekeepers, newmakers, and celebrities a topic Bauman wrote about in Liquid Modernity.
Applied to sites like Facebook, what this discussion begs for is an analysis of how the many watch the many on social media, which is underdeveloped so far and a missed opportunity for Liquid Surveillance precisely market liquidity foucault panopticon it works well with the overall argument of increasing liquidity.
Instead, what is needed is a better theory of how the surveillant gaze is both enacted by and upon the many without forgetting the powerful role the few have in watching and being watched. This work, I think, reinforces a more flowing, nimble, lighter understanding of surveillance consistent with the thesis of the book at hand.
A third critique is a familiar one for readers of this blog: The assumption made in this volume is that the offline is being traded for the on; meanwhile, research has shown that those using social media more also do more things away from the computer, precisely against the zero-sum assumption. Indeed, there are many trends related to the rise of modernity—consumer culture, suburbanization, television, to name a few—that have done what Bauman has described, so it is unfortunate that he has identified a counter-trend as the convenient culprit.
A theory of liquid surveillance and social media might more profitably begin with the understanding that the Internet is not separate from but part of the same reality that comprises real people with real bodies, politics, bonds, histories, emotions, market liquidity foucault panopticon the rest. By viewing occupiers as visitors from an online world, we can conveniently blame the so-called trivial nature of this new world for the difficulties inherent in social movements rather than detail the fact that the Wall Street and the state certainly did take notice of the protests as something very real and responded as such, often violently.
Liquid Surveillance does much more than just discuss social media, which is all I have focused on here. The conversational style makes it a fun read while never ceasing to be stimulating and sharp. For our purposes here, the book is utterly persuasive that liquid surveillance is an important way market liquidity foucault panopticon discuss social observation online, and it is my hope that others continue this application moving forward.
Thus, the biggest weakness of Liquid Surveillance is market liquidity foucault panopticon one of its strengths: I have also published a more traditional academic review market liquidity foucault panopticon this book for Surveillance and society, found here.
Nathan is on Twitter [ nathanjurgenson ] and Tumblr [ nathanjurgenson. Commodity in today's economics and marketing means a thing which the market treats the same no matter who produced them. Whether gold is produced in South Africa or Ghana, it's gold. The market for gold determines the price, and no mining company can influence this.
Branding and advertising in one way to achieve this, market liquidity foucault panopticon another is the process where a thing is turned from a commodity into a brand. Consumers pay a premium for brands which are often in no way connected to the costs of production but on an emotional premium.
In that sense people are trying to differentiate themselves - trying to turn themselves into personal brands. Nathan, my presentation TTW13 tackles market liquidity foucault panopticon the question you bring up re: Occupy and a somewhat false split between online market liquidity foucault panopticon offline.
This seems to be a particular trouble spot for surveillance studies -- scholars look at one or the other, but not both. Problems are both methodological and theoretical. Not presenting any answers but perhaps start a conversation about it, using liquid surveillance as a jumping off point.
We live in a cyborg society. Technology has infiltrated the most fundamental aspects of our lives: This blog chronicles our new, augmented reality. Three Provocations nathanjurgenson on February 25, Facebook users, are simultaneously promoters of commodities and the commodities they promote. Conclusion Liquid Surveillance does much more than just discuss social media, which is all I have focused on here.
Comments 7 Wessel van Rensburg — February 26, Small beef, but just this observation: Three Provocations sociology of the Web Scoop. About Cyborgology We live in a cyborg society.