Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Janosik Herder, The Power of Platforms. How biopolitical companies threaten democracy, Public Seminar, January 25, 2019

The 2010s will likely be remembered as the decade of the rise of platforms. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber — all of these companies have become more than just billion-dollar businesses. Over the last ten years they have started to play an essential role in the everyday life of most people. We increasingly rely on platforms and their services for our social, professional, and political needs. This, of course, is what separates them from “normal companies.” Platforms tend to monopolize aspects of life — such as socializing, dating, room-letting, searching — and make a profit by utilizing their monopoly. But what distinguishes Google, Facebook, Airbnb, and Uber from other companies is not just their economics. How these platforms work, how they regulate their services, and how they manage their users is a fundamentally political matter.

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Following Michel Foucault, they may be understood to employ a specific form of biopower, and should therefore be understood as biopolitical companies.

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An independent project of The New School Publishing Initiative, Public Seminar is produced by New School faculty, students and staff, and supported by colleagues and collaborators around the globe.

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