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Data Goes Pop: The Secret of Transparent Democracy

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Abstract:

Both the Obama Administration and NGOs have invested in digital transparency and data visualisations ostensibly as a way to engage the public in local and national politics, foster accountability, and, for the former, to ease public concern about practices of state secrecy. But this particular way of tackling secrecy creates a ‘data public’ and reconfigures the democratic contract. This paper will interrogate digital transparency through a reading of Deleuze’s ‘Postscript on the Societies of Control’. Deleuze charts the movement from Foucauldian disciplinary societies towards societies of control. Whereas the former was characterized by a series of discrete and autonomous units of confinement, the latter is populated with dispersed mechanisms of control. Transparency is a clear expression of the control society because in opening up government, digital transparency ensures that the business of governance is without boundaries or end. The citizen auditor, or data public, is called upon to be perpetually vigilant, to be part of ‘a continuous network’, a key participant in this new informational capitalist-democracy. Crucially, this vigilance surreptitiously modifies the contract of representational democracy and transfers responsibility onto the citizen.

While any technology that aids the move from administrative to democratic accountability seems like an unequivocal good, it is imperative to consider the discursive and material effects. New forms of emancipation, the paper will argue, can be experienced as control. The utopian claims of the US transparency movement, therefore, need to be interrogated.
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Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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MLA Citation:

Birchall, Clare. "Data Goes Pop: The Secret of Transparent Democracy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Washington, Washington, DC, <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p655492_index.html>

APA Citation:

Birchall, C. "Data Goes Pop: The Secret of Transparent Democracy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Washington, Washington, DC <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p655492_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: Both the Obama Administration and NGOs have invested in digital transparency and data visualisations ostensibly as a way to engage the public in local and national politics, foster accountability, and, for the former, to ease public concern about practices of state secrecy. But this particular way of tackling secrecy creates a ‘data public’ and reconfigures the democratic contract. This paper will interrogate digital transparency through a reading of Deleuze’s ‘Postscript on the Societies of Control’. Deleuze charts the movement from Foucauldian disciplinary societies towards societies of control. Whereas the former was characterized by a series of discrete and autonomous units of confinement, the latter is populated with dispersed mechanisms of control. Transparency is a clear expression of the control society because in opening up government, digital transparency ensures that the business of governance is without boundaries or end. The citizen auditor, or data public, is called upon to be perpetually vigilant, to be part of ‘a continuous network’, a key participant in this new informational capitalist-democracy. Crucially, this vigilance surreptitiously modifies the contract of representational democracy and transfers responsibility onto the citizen.

While any technology that aids the move from administrative to democratic accountability seems like an unequivocal good, it is imperative to consider the discursive and material effects. New forms of emancipation, the paper will argue, can be experienced as control. The utopian claims of the US transparency movement, therefore, need to be interrogated.


Similar Titles:
Democracy and Data Dissemination: The Effect of Political Regime on Transparency

Democracy and Data Dissemination: The Effect of Political Regime on Transparency

Democracy and Data Dissemination: The Effect of Political Regime on Transparency


 
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