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From Biopower to Infopower: Toward a Genealogy of Contemporary Political Conduct

A wide number of contemporary political assemblages from mass surveillance to finance capitalism to big data suggest that we may be in the midst of new political conditions.
When Oct 08, 2013
from 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM
Where 124 Sparks Building, University Park, PA 16802
Contact Name
Contact Phone 8148635911
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Abstract: A wide number of contemporary political assemblages from mass surveillance to finance capitalism to big data suggest that we may be in the midst of new political conditions.  Some have sought to conceptualize these assemblages in such terms as “the information society” or “new media culture” while others, perhaps most others, would amalgamate them as part of the hybrid beast of “neoliberalism”. I here argue for a different conceptualization of the stakes of these contemporary political transformations.  My analysis focuses attention away from state strategies and institutional formations toward new modes of power (or the conduct of conduct).  In this I concur with a handful of new media theorists (Chun, Galloway, and Terranova) who have made productive use of Michel Foucault’s analyses of biopower. Adopting a methodological approach grounded in genealogy and pragmatism, I part from these new media theorists in suggesting that we are in the midst of emerging political landscapes that cannot be comprehended by biopower so much as by a concept of infopower (specifying the intersection between information and power).  Why does this matter?  If my argument is right, then contemporary political theory needs to be able to move beyond (but without abandoning) both the general problematic of biopower (Foucault, Deleuze, Arendt) as well as those many attempts at reconstructing our biopolitical dilemmas as are offered by competing versions of communicative democracy (Dewey, Rawls, Habermas).