appuntamenti · Marzo 12, 2024

Deciphering Digital Power: Insights from Foucault

Philosophy and Social Science International Conference, May 8-12 2024

Silvia Capodivacca  

Gabriele Giacomini

This talk aims to expand Michel Foucault’s theories into the realm of modern surveillance. We explore the transition from traditional disciplines, such as statistics, to the digital data sciences, demonstrating that the power dynamics addressed by Foucault persist, albeit becoming less overt and sovereign, and more subtle and disciplinary. Our focus is on how digital technologies, especially the internet, big data, and artificial intelligence, through practices like profiling, personalization, microtargeting, and psychographics, have transformed social dynamics, underscoring the pervasive and subtle control they exert. In doing so, we integrate the philosophical perspective with sociological analyses, concretely examining how these technological shifts, promoted by both state bodies and private enterprises, have influenced individual behaviors and collective interactions in contemporary society.

The research questions are fundamentally as follows: 

  • How do modern practices of digital surveillance align with or diverge from Foucault’s concept of disciplinary power? 
  • How have current digital technologies reshaped the dynamics of power and control in contemporary society? 
  • How do these transformations impact individual autonomy, freedom, and the potential for resistance? 

By exploring these questions, we delve into how Foucault’s ideas, particularly on disciplinary power, provide a critical lens for deciphering the complex interplay between power and surveillance in today’s society. This talk underscores the pervasive yet discreet nature of modern surveillance mechanisms, highlighting the transition from Foucault’s disciplinary societies to the nuanced power dynamics of the digital age. It emphasizes how surveillance and control are embedded in everyday technology, shaping individual subjectivity and societal norms under the guise of enhanced connectivity and convenience.