Control Societies and Platform Logic

Winter 2014 / Summer 2015

Deleuze’s concept of the control society presciently sketches a world of power as ‘universal modulation’. This article investigates the applicability of this understanding of control to today’s socio-technical systems. It examines Deleuze’s control society through the philosophy of cybernetics. This situates a restrictive interpretation with reference to Norbert Weiner’s theory of control systems in animals and machines. We argue that in maintaining a concept of control-as-homeostatic feedback modulation, cybernetic readings tend to ignore the constructive, enabling dimension of control. To remedy this, we analyse a recent concept developed in the field of business studies of information technology: the platform. Extrapolating beyond the existing literature of platform design, we develop a generalised theory of the platform as an alternative model of control, through the concept of generative entrenchment, where enablement is directly correlated with constraint and vice versa. Finally we consider the political implications of such an approach to control.

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