Monday, 17 December 2012

Society of Control After 9/11


Jonathan Raban’s novel, Surveillance, (2006) questions the society of control in a post 9/11 world where the state has control over its people. For example, in staging these preventative accidents, the government is trying to discipline its people into taking precautions, for when it happens in reality. In Raban’s novel, there are elements of the Foucaldian disciplinary society of control. It can be argued that while the government is trying to make people more aware it seems that the state is trying to control people. The government is not interested in people’s freedoms or liberties, but interested in a society of control. On a personal level, we see in the book that new technologies make it easier for people to survey others. This can be seen when Lucy says, “Look at the way people Google their prospective dates. Everybody does it. Everybody’s trying to spy on everyone else.” (225) This can also be seen in the use of Google maps, which even I have used to Google my own street. I have even seen myself in the Google maps street view, which seems to be taken years ago. It’s rather spooky. Because this technology is so widely used by everybody, does it then make it acceptable to use for spying on others? I admit it’s useful, however, when put into the wrong hands; somebody may use it for unethical and immoral reasons. Personally, I don’t mind the state having such intrusive access to my life, if they use their powers for good. The minute they abuse their powers, for example, taking somebody’s personal identity or fraud, then it is wrong. But the line seems very blurred. It seems hypocritical to say that it’s okay if I use technology as a form of surveillance to spy on my neighbour, let’s say, but its wrong when the government spy on us. In my opinion of the people who feel so strongly about the government spying on us, it may just be that they have something to hide.

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