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The 3 texts from Foucault, Deleuze and Lazzarato seem to illustrate the developments of social powers systems in chronological order. Foucault in his ‘Discipline and Punish’ (1975) departs from the shift from Sovereign Society to Disciplinary Societies, which gradually took place through 18th to 19th centuries. Deleuze in his ‘Postscript on the Societies of Control’ (1992) pick up where Foucault has left: describing the change from Disciplinary to Controlled societies. Lazzerato in his turn elaborated on Deleuze’s established grounds. In his ‘Immaterial Labor’ (1996) Lazzarato goes deeply into the features of cotemporary production modes. However one should not see these systems succeeding and replacing each other but they overlap and exist within each other.

Disciplinary Societies

Foucault introduced the new tools that the Disciplinary Societies based on, namely normalizing judgment, hierarchical observation and examination. These tools are necessary in order to ‘make an individual’: the constituent element of the Disciplinary Societies. It works though subjecting a person to a disciplinary system that operates with the mentioned tools. The systems that Foucault refers to are the institutions such us school, army, factory, prison etc.

Normalizing judgment in its core is a kind of ranking system to which the subject’s features/performance can be compared. It is created by gathering data from multiple sources from which a ‘norm’ is established. This system allows the subjects to evaluate him/her self, by comparison to the ‘norm’, without the interference of authorities. Hierarchical observation is a tool to internalize the normalizing judgment. It stimulates the subject to stay in the margins of the ‘norm’. Here the shift from Sovereign to Disciplinary is very explicit (illustrated by architectural concept of Panopticon). The shift is in the visibility: where in Sovereign Societies the ruler was the visible one as a proof to his/her power, in the Disciplinary Societies the subjects are the visible ones and the authority is the invisible observer. The examination is the combination of these two, where the hierarchical power evaluates, grades and corrects the subjects according to the rank of normalizing judgment. However the very important aspect of examination is the documentation and archiving of this process. This data that is extracted from the subject becomes a commodity of its own. This data would be added to the source that makes the “norm”: normalizing judgment, but what is more important is that this data makes each subject, what Foucault calls it, a ‘case’. With this formation of the ‘case’ is when the subject obtains his/her individuality.

The Disciplinary systems by now are all too familiar to us and the mentioned tools are in one way or the other have been implemented on most of us. The point that we seem to be forgotten (or never introduced to) is that ‘individuality’ at its origin is not a property that indicates the uniqueness or authenticity of our character, (and it is threatened by any authoritarian system) as we understand it nowadays. It is on the contrary was given to us by the system itself. ‘Individuality’ in its origin is a property that originated in the described changes of power, when human features were made calculable/measurable and data was extracted from them. This data (the ‘case’) what became to represent a person and made him/her an individual.

Societies of Control/Immaterial Labor

The main difference from the Disciplinary system to Societies of Control of Deleuze is the ‘immaterialness’. Where in Disciplinary Societies the systems were operating in real time and space, the system in Controlled Societies is free-floating and intangible. Where Disciplinary systems were distinct molds, the systems of Controlled Societies had no distinct shapes; instead these molds were continuously changing and shifting. This of course had to do with technological developments: the formation of cyber/online spaces. Here the data produced by each individual, the ‘case’, becomes a particle of the network/mass data that the Societies of Control operates with. A network, which consists from the data produced buy individuals, thus their individualities. Social-Network websites of today perfectly illustrate this phenomenon. This change affected as well on the production mode of capitalism. To produce didn’t mean to make objects in factories anymore: these are now made in the third world countries. The production now has higher-purpose which is creating markets and demands for products.

“It is (capitalism) no longer buys raw materials and no longer sells the finished product: it buys the finished product or assembles parts. What it wants to sell is services and what it wants to buy is stocks. This is no longer a capitalism for production but for the product, which is to say, for being sold or marketed.” G. Dezeuze “Societies of Control” page 6

In this kind of production environment Lazzarato sees ‘immaterial labor’ as an essential occupation. The individuals who perform this kind of labor are intellectuals of new kind: who have “mass intellectuality”, by this Lazzarato means understanding of mass data. Their labor is immaterial since their task is the production of informational and cultural content of the product. The nature of these jobs are in decision-making and information handling which urges that worker’s subjectivity to become a part of the production mode. As Lazzarato puts it: “the worker’s soul to become part of the factory”. The person performing “immaterial labor ”is given autonomy and freedom, he/she is to be responsible for his/her own motivation and control. But this is not done for the sake of one’s freedom in the workplace but it is a required element in the chain of production process. However this approach to work thinness the wall between private-life and work. This manifests in today’s numerous freelance professions, which basically are small production-units that can be activated when a demand arises.

“The cycle of production comes into operation when it is required by the capitalist; once the job has done, the cycle dissolves back into the network and flows that make possible the production and enrichment of its productive capacities.” M. Lazzarato “Immaterial Labor” (page 5)

Immaterial labor deals with he new relations of production and consumption. These mass intellectuals’ job is to give shapes (materialize) consumer’s needs and taste: demands that have been determine by the consumers themselves through the continuous data that they create. Thus their job is to constantly find new and efficient ways of communications with the consumer. In this system where a product is shaped in a reactionary mode to mass demand, the consumer have his/her involvement in the creative process of a product. However this mode generates new challenges: the production’s task is not only to guaranty the sells but to create a product that on its own becomes an ideological commodity. By ideological Lazzarato doesn’t mean a product that represents already exciting ‘reality’ but on the contrary, that creates a ‘reality’ of its own.

“The particularity of the commodity produced through immaterial labor (its essential use value being given by its value as informational and cultural content) consists in the fact that it is not destroyed in the act of consumption, but rather it enlarges, transforms, and creates the "ideological" and cultural environment of the consumer. This commodity does not produce the physical capacity of labor power; instead, it transforms the person who uses it.” M. Lazzarato “Immaterial Labor” (page 6)

Here we see how social groups and their values are directly connected to the creative process of a production. And the product that is created is a result of new mode of communication between the producer and consumer. This product on its turn becomes an element of in ideological environment and values of the social group.

On reflection to the time period that these texts refer to, from the emergence of Disciplinary Systems to the current operating power systems, we see the formation of the ‘modern individual’, which in today’s terms is more widely referred to as a ‘user’. Our ‘individuality’, once given to us by a system, is being exploited by another system today and it’s instrumental for the contemporary society. In the course of sharing our ‘individuality’ we became entities that constantly produce information. This information now so valuable and powerful that it’s ‘produces’ production.