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Mark Poster


synchronic linguistics views a particular state of a language at some given point in time. ... Modern linguistics, following synchronic point of view. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Mark Poster

  • Foucault The Means of Correct Training
  • Poster Foucault and Databases

Key words Discourse Databases
Panopticon, provides a paradigm for power and
disciplined behavior. We regulate our behavior
when we think we are being watched. In the
modern age the body is trained, transformed and
improved in particular spacesprison, school,
factory, barracks The aim is efficiency. And the
more compliant the body (docile) the more
efficient that body will be.
Foucault The Means of Correct Training The
function of the disciplinary society is to
train. Discipline can be understood as a
technology of power and the individual (a
modern invention) a construction of power. Three
sections of the chapter cover the subjects of 1)
Observation/ surveillance 2) Normalizing
judgment 3) The examination
The society of discipline describe the
distribution of bodies in space and time.The body
is no longer subject to the will of a ruler but
enters a disciplinary system where surveillance,
discipline, ranking and self-regulation are key
The individual in Foucault The individual
is a reality fabricated by this specific
technology of power that I have called
discipline. 204 Observation/ surveillance,
Normalizing judgment, The examination
Mark Poster
  • Foucault and Databases, from The Mode of
    Information (1990).

The mode of information
  • Derived from Marxs concept of the mode of
    production How commodities are produced at each
    time. This changes historically from one period
    to the next (e.g., from agriculture to industrial

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  • The mode of information comes about when
    information (gathering, storage, transmission)
    becomes central to the mode of production.

Discipline makes individuals...
  • means of
  • Hierarchical observation
  • Normalizing judgment
  • Examination

...databases are a means of surveillance
  • ...which is a major form of power in the mode of
    information (86).
  • The database imposes a new language on top of
    those already existing .. that uses the norm to
    constitute individuals and define deviants (95).

What do databases do? Retrieve all records
that match certain criteria Update records in
bulk Cross-reference records in different
tables Perform complex aggregate calculations
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The database assists the process of
normalization How? Databases give us access to
and bar us particular spheres of economic and
social activity
Posters main emphasis in Foucault and Databases
Databases can be understood through Foucaults
analysis of discourse.p69The idea of discourse
runs through all of Foucaults work What is
discourse? a body of knowledge that defines and
limits what can be said about something the term
tends to be used for broad bodies of social
knowledge such as discourses of economics, the
law, medicine, politicsPractices of Looking,
an introduction to Cultural Theory p
354 Keydiscourses change over time / particular
discourses produce particular kinds of
subject. Discourse frames Observation and
surveillance/Normalizing judgment/The
examinationFor Poster Foucaults theory
problemamatizes the interdependence of language
and action p69
The structure of Posters argument Sections TV
ads and databases Harbinger of the Absolute
subject Keeping tabs (surveillance) Making a
buck (the commodification of information) Talk
, Print and Electrons (speech/writing) The
Oral, the Written and the Electronic
(linguistics) These last two above sections
outline the inadequacies of previous theories of
communication and set the stage for Foucault,
Discourse and the Superpanopticon
Talk, Print and Electrons. Writing/speech
(the political dimension) Giddens talk as
social activity Habermas communicative
action. p78 Both overlook the distinctive
importance of electronic language.
3) The Oral, the Written and the
Electronic (speech/writing/critique of
technologies of freedom) p82 The short
comings of Marxists and Liberals 87
But, for Poster, Minervas owl flies at dusk.
So how is electronic language distinctive ?
Poster Electronic Data differs from written
text because it creates relationships among
pieces of information that do not exist in those
relationships outside the database. p96
Since the enlightenment texts (records) serve
ostensibly to ascertain truth- actually they form
discursive systems that discipline and control.
Poster, in agreement with Foucault, is making
the point that discourses are not just linguistic
systems, texts, or particular modes of speech but
practices. In Foucault, for instance, politics
isnt the subject of political discourse but its
substance. Just as scientific or medical
information is the substance of science and
medicine. Which leads to Posters main argument
Foucault, Discourse and the Superpanopticon p94
The difference between encoding and writing. Code
eliminates noise 94 Non-ambiguity 96
Posters Superpanopticon the discourse of
databases Not a subject but a practice 97
Foucault in then gym
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Big Brother and Foucault 1) Observation/
surveillance 2) Normalizing judgment 3) The
examination The time code The space code Training
Rank Surveillance Normalization
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Three questions What defines disciplinary
societies? How do Foucault and Poster differ?
(the panopticon and the superpanopticon) How
can these ideas be applied to your observations
of contemporary media ?(Reality TV, databases,
CCTV, architecture c) What makes databases
media?(How do databases mediate?)
Diachronic?The study of language over time.
diachronic linguistics views the historical
development of a language. Thus, on the
diachronic axis we can go back and forth in time,
watching the language with all its features
change.Synchrony? The study of language at a
particular point in time. synchronic linguistics
views a particular state of a language at some
given point in time. This could mean Modern
English of the present day, or the systematic
analysis of the system of Shakespeare's English.
However, no comparisons are made to other states
of language or other times. Modern linguistics,
following synchronic point of view. Saussure
postulated the priority of synchrony no
knowledge of the historical development of a
language is necessary to examine its present
system. He arrived at this radical viewpoint due
to his conviction that linguistic research must
concentrate on the structure of language.
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