Surveillance Flow: Culture in Byung-Chul Han's the Performance SocietyAnıl Durmuşahmet
Byung-Chul Han, one of the most influential philosophers and theorists of recent times, discusses the relationship between culture and power and revises the concept of disciplinary society. Grounding this revision on the concepts of performance and transparency in particular, Han has followed an approach close to that of Foucault. According to Foucault, the powers construct the subject through the concepts he calls dispositive, and this construction is inured to the subject through experiences. While dispositives gain importance as a recipe for making subjectivity meaningful in late capitalist societies, they are utilized by different theorists in their social readings as guiding tools. Han chooses the concept of surveillance as a dispositive in his works, while he prefers the concepts of performance and transparency as a power technique. The study aims to discuss Han's revision of the concept of disciplinary society within the context of the cultural acclimatization applied by powers on the subject, using the interpretivist technique from qualitative research methods. According to political psychology, which has sprung from the intersection of politics and psychology, culture is functionalized by powers to exert an acclimatization effect on society. Ideologies pass to the subjects through the acclimatization that occurs at the moments of encounter and spread through the interaction. In the context of this study, the timeline on social media, which implicates surveillance flow, is considered a suitable place for cultural acclimatization to be carried out by spreading ideologies. According to the data obtained in the study, in today's post-modern society, the powers have primarily switched to a performance-based paradigm from a discipline-based one. Powers build a palliative society that has repressed its sufferings, that aims not only to rehabilitate the bodies but also to control the minds, that encourages the individual to continue their performance despite getting tired, and thus a society that keeps the belief alive that there are happy subjects.
Gözetim Akışı: Byung-Chul Han’ın Disiplin Toplumu Eleştirisi Olarak Performans Toplumu ve Kültürel İklimlendirmeAnıl Durmuşahmet
Kültür ile iktidar arasındaki ilişkiyi ele alan son dönemin önemli filozof ve teorisyenlerinden biri olan Byung-Chul Han, disiplin toplumunu revize etmektedir. Bu işlemini özellikle performans ve şeffaflık kavramları üzerine şekillendiren Han, Foucault’ya yakın bir tutum izlemektedir. Foucault, dispozitif dediği kavramlar aracılığıyla iktidarların özneyi inşa ettiklerini, bu inşa sürecinin özneye deneyimler aracılığıyla kazandırıldığını düşünmektedir. Dispozitifler geç kapitalist toplumlarda öznelliği anlamlı kılmanın reçetesi olarak önem kazanırken, farklı teorisyenlerin toplumsal okumalarında kendilerine kılavuz edindikleri araçlar olarak değerlendirilmektedirler. Han, çalışmalarında kendine dispozitif olarak gözetimi, iktidar tekniği olarak ise performans ve şeffaflığı seçmektedir. Çalışmada nitel araştırma yöntemleri içinde değerlendirilen yorumsamacı teknik benimsenerek, Han’ın disiplin toplumu üzerinde gerçekleştirdiği revizyon, iktidarın özne üzerinde uyguladığı kültürel iklimlendirme bağlamında tartışılacaktır. Politika ve psikolojinin kesişimiyle ortaya çıkan politik psikoloji içerisinde kültür, iktidarlar tarafından toplum üzerinde bir iklim etkisi görmektedir. İdeolojiler, karşılaşma anları aracılığıyla bir iklimlendirme ile öznelere geçmekte ve etkileşim ile yayılım göstermektedir. Çalışma kapsamında gözetim akışını içerimleyen sosyal medyadaki ana sayfa, ideolojilerin yayılarak kültürel iklimlendirmenin gerçekleştirilmesi için oldukça sağlıklı mekanlar olarak değerlendirilmektedir. Çalışmada elde edilen verilere göre post-modern toplum içinde iktidarlar artık gözetim paradigmasını büyük ölçüde disiplinden performansa dönüştürmüşlerdir. Böylelikle iktidarlar sadece bedeni rehabilite etmeyi değil, zihinleri kontrol etmeyi; bireyin yorulmasına karşın performansına devam etmesini güdüleyen ve böylelikle, mutlu öznelerin olduğuna yönelik inancı diri tutan, acılarını bastırmış; palyatif bir toplum inşa etmektedir.
Byung-Chul Han, a thinker who deals with today’s cultural changes, just as Foucault dealt with cultural climate changes, interprets the society in his various texts through the surveillance dispositive in particular. According to Foucault, the concept of dispositive marks strategies on the way to the subject, which is built through subjective experiences. Dispositive is everything that captures, determines, models, and controls a living being, in other words, everything that constructs the living being in the name of the power. According to Han, the task of the surveillance dispositive (function of building the culture) is still valid. The bodycontrolling, disciplinary technologies developed in the 20th century to ensure the security of society have now turned into transparentizing technologies that allow a society to feel free. Han, who defines the 21st-century society as a performance or fatigue society, interprets the new social dynamics with his concepts. Han points out a new cultural process in particular that has emerged around developing technologies.
Psychoanalysis has a place in the revision of the concept of disciplinary society carried out by Han. Psychoanalysis deals with individuals on an individual basis. Its field comprises the interactions of individuals with society. In Han’s approach, too, the person in a flow is in a relationship with society. It provides information both to society and power and is in a relationship with all kinds of available information. The subject, who is in a constant state of performance, experiences certain periods rise and fall, and this process causes the power to make some changes in the flow of the subject. This is where the historicist hegemony of psychoanalysis comes into play.
In summary, the power, namely the order, has changed its abode. It is in society, in the flow. It determines its ideal through democratic voting. At least, the neoliberal subject is asked to understand the power as such. This psycho-political power technique, as named by Chul Han, is an important indicator showing that the Foulcauldian power technique has become obsolete. Now negativity has been replaced by positivity, i.e., “liking.” Normality is being shaped in line with the general mentality of the subjects making up society. Most importantly, punishment and treatment have passed into a different dimension and started to take place within the mind. In this aspect, the flow is ideological.
Ideologies are abstract structures that mark the general in terms of their social and political functions. Care is taken that it does not mark the concrete so that a broader mass can be built. The abstraction on the power’s side can create spaces where it can manifest itself in the daily life of the subjects. Thus, there is an opportunity for discourse to be experienced. Although ideologies constantly change depending on social, political, or technological developments, they are also stable, and a transition to flexible practices can be achieved only in variable social issues. Individuals can realize themselves as long as they establish a relationship with society, and such a situation is always open to manipulation. Micro-power comes into play once the individual establishes a relationship with the social. Moreover, culture is manipulative, and the powers shape it. And power, according to Chul Han, is a highly complex concept that cannot be agreed upon. Capitalism and power, which have evolved toward a flexible and distributed structure after wars, have similarly liberated the culture from its sharpness. Even popular culture is now inclined to change much faster compared to the past. Especially nowadays, the fresh content of the morning can become stale content by the evening. Cultural codes might have already changed when we come across them again.
At the other pole of the strong faith in the democratic process, micro- and macro-powers utilize “big data” to quantify qualitative data and, using such data, share content with the public in advertising, public relations processes, as well as at the decision-making stages of political processes. On the other hand, powers no longer merely build and construct subjects but also use their mind as a space for their campaigns. Data collected from shares in the timeline is reflected again to persuade the subject to spread “their opinions” around them. As this is wanted by the subject themself, the process operates through democratic decisionmaking. As a result of the study, it is seen that in today’s post-modern society, the powers have switched from a discipline-based paradigm to a performance-based surveillance one. The powers now build a complacent palliative society that has repressed its sufferings, that aims not only to rehabilitate the bodies but also to control the minds, and that comprises happy subjects who continue their performance despite getting tired. Byung Chul Han discusses these power techniques through similar but ultimately different themes.