THE MODERN

(ii) Industrial Society

Technological Enframement

The development of the Individual Subject, the objectification of reality through the new way of seeing in perspective, the protestant ethic of discipline and aloneness with God and at arms length from one's fellows, the rise of liberalism and capitalism and the new technologies of the body all coincide during the two-three hundred years between the end of the Middle Ages and the Birth of Man. With Foucault, it is important to understand this phenomenon as an epistemic development. But all these elements fit neatly together into the Modern Society, and looked at from an archaeological perspective enable us to see society not as the final outcome of a long progress, but as the picture of a social organisation with profoundly different rules of power from those existing up until the sixteenth century.

But with the onset of the Industrial Society of the nineteenth century, new rules came into play whose importance had until this time been minimal, but which now began to shape society in profound and encompassing ways. These rules are summed up in the concept of technological enframement.100 To quickly grasp this concept, one need only think of the ubiquity of the electricity grid in modern society, which is only obvious when there is a power cut. In short, technologies add on to each other - every electrical appliance is a side-bet on the continuation of the electricity grid - and like a scrabble game, the parameters for each new innovation become more and more constrained as the board fills up, and the options for change become more and more contingent.

The technologies of the body which developed during the course of the eighteenth century set the parameters for those which arose in the nineteenth, and so on. The twin poles of bio-power - control of the species and control of the body - combined in the nineteenth century preoccupation with sex. The technologies of propogation and population control specialised into scientific categorisation of a multiplicity of sexual acts, which in turn rapidly came to be viewed as outlining specific sexualities. The person experiencing a particular sexual act became defined by that act as a particular type of person. The disciplinary grid extended thoughout society into the regulation and control of prostitution, social welfare programmes aimed at treating venereal disease, and attempts to eradicate incest among the working classes. All this was done in the name of the purity of the race and the sake of public hygiene. Sexuality is an invention used as an "instrument-effect in the spread of bio- power."101 The "deployment of sexuality" allowed bio- power to step in to control the dangerous and irrational forces it represented. This morphologising by gender and sexuality was a primary weopon of bio-power, defining who we are, performatively, by prescribing our behaviour.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, psychoanalysis allowed these body-technologies to use the old 'confessional technology' of catholicism to drive the control of bio-power right into the desire network of the inner being. Our entire inner world suddenly became the territory of bio-power, and linked directly to law: for psychoanalysis "the connection between sexuality and the law as repression was absolutely universal: it was the basis of civilisation."

But of course it is not just the Foucaultian technologies of the body which entrapped and enframed society as the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries unfolded, but the whole juggernaut of the industrial revolution.

As Virilio points out, (Speed and Politics, Pure War) the factory system developing alongside the disciplinary technologies of the barracks and the prisons, organised a workforce into a single place from nine-to-five, five days a week, and organised a systematic production process for them to follow. This system predated any machinery invented to make such a system more efficient and more productive. The famous spinning jenny deemed to be the trigger for the industrial revolution was in fact created very specifically in order to speed up cotton production in a Midlands factory that had already been operating for over a decade, (Virilio.)

The technology of the factory system, in short, is the original enframement of the industrial production process, and this system requires, from the outset, the new bourgeois approach to humanity. The early factory system is the absolute monarchy in miniature, a state organised for the glory of its princely owner and master; the modern corporation the miniature bourgeois state, organised for its own ends.

The Politics of Technology

Against the background of these systems, technological artifacts to increase production efficiency rapidly proliferated. Yet these artifacts did not escape their own politics, either. As Bijker and Law state, "Technologies do not..evolve under the impetus of some necessary inner technological or scientific logic. They are not possessed of an inherent momentum. If they evolve or change, it is because they have been pressed into that shape."102

Technologies evolve according to a range of contingencies. New technologies are the result of conflict between different interest groups who determnie their final shape. The merchants at arms length from one another are continually calculating self-interest. Strategies are employed by different groups to try to achieve what each wants. Technologies only stabilise when "the heterogenous relations in which they are implicated, and of which they form a part, are themselves stabilised."103 Above all, both the strategies and the consequences of these processes in totality, are emergent, that is, they are continually the result of changing circumstances.

As Bruno Latour describes, even so simple a device as a door closer can become implicated, to the critical eye, in prescriptive discrimination.104 If it goes too fast it privileges local users, who get used to it, over disabled/old/new users who find it troublesome. Every artifact has some human will placed into it. A policeman at a junction is replaced by an artifact that mediates his intention so that he need not be physically present. The traffic light, as an artifact, contains the programme: control the traffic at this juntion. But because there isn't a real human being there anymore, people just drive through when they think they can. The anti-programme in the 'users' of the artifact is to cheat the programme in the artifact. So the police authorities install a camera that watches the traffic light and snaps you if you break the programme.

Every artifact has such a programme in it, or more accurately, an artifact is only part of a programme of action. Such a programme, moreover, is to a greater or lesser extent, overtly or covertly, a political act. The architect Moses who designed much of New York's infrastructure built the railbridges all around Central Park deliberately too low for the double-decker buses to pass under. The (mainly black) urban poor, who would use the buses, were thus excluded from the Park. "Science and technology are not politics. [But] they are politics by other means."105

The bourgeois ideology of private ownership and individual acquisitiveness, based upon its Calvinist quest for salvation, and the political technologies of the body designed to control every move and gesture of our bodies, is built into every programme, part and parcel of every rationally and mechanically conceived and produced artifact. The industrial society is absolutely and completely a part of the bourgeois world set in motion with the development of the Individual Subject, and frame by frame these political technologies have closed in on us tighter and tighter, to create the world as we know it.

CONTENTS

NEXT: THE POST-MODERN (i)POST-INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY