Foucault News

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

Bürger, J., Laguna-Tapia, A.
Individual homogenization in large-scale systems: on the politics of computer and social architectures
(2020) Palgrave Communications, 6 (1), art. no. 47.

DOI: 10.1057/s41599-020-0425-4

Open access

Abstract
One determining characteristic of contemporary sociopolitical systems is their power over increasingly large and diverse populations. This raises questions about power relations between heterogeneous individuals and increasingly dominant and homogenizing system objectives. This article crosses epistemic boundaries by integrating computer engineering and a historicalphilosophical approach making the general organization of individuals within large-scale systems and corresponding individual homogenization intelligible. From a versatile archeological-genealogical perspective, an analysis of computer and social architectures is conducted that reinterprets Foucault’s disciplines and political anatomy to establish the notion of politics for a purely technical system. This permits an understanding of system organization as modern technology with application to technical and social systems alike. Connecting to Heidegger’s notions of the enframing (Gestell) and a more primal truth (anfänglicheren Wahrheit), the recognition of politics in differently developing systems then challenges the immutability of contemporary organization. Following this critique of modernity and within the conceptualization of system organization, Derrida’s democracy to come (à venir) is then reformulated more abstractly as organizations to come. Through the integration of the discussed concepts, the framework of Large-Scale Systems Composed of Homogeneous Individuals (LSSCHI) is proposed, problematizing the relationships between individuals, structure, activity, and power within large-scale systems. The LSSCHI framework highlights the conflict of homogenizing system-level objectives and individual heterogeneity, and outlines power relations and mechanisms of control shared across different social and technical systems. © 2020, The Author(s).

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