Skip navigation

This week, I was most struck by the connection between Agre’s idea of grammars of action and its connection with the control society as described by Deleuze. Grammars of action provide a protocol for actions, dictating what can or can’t be done or how to do something. Whether this is for an accounting system or for a telemarketer’s script or some other scenario, a set of rules is provided and the person or computer is required, or at the very least expected, to follow them. This connects back to the idea of the control society in which rules are provided to people, although in this situation the rules are often implicit, who are then also expected to abide by them. A person may feel that they are an individual, but in the grand scheme of things, there is ultimately a set protocol that encompasses all the possibilities for how something can be done. In this way, everything that we are able to do is allowed because it falls under the accepted standards and, if we are to use Agre’s language, grammars of action for the society at large, or more narrowly, in our jobs and through our electronic devices.

On a more personal note, I also began to think about this near lack of complete autonomy in terms of a lack of privacy, particularly in regards to Foucault’s panopticism. The idea of others being able to access what I would consider private information through my computer or phone should, by Foucault’s measures, lead me to enact a certain level of self-surveillance or censorship. However, I haven’t stopped sending embarrassing pictures of myself to my best friend or shopping on amazon for weird socks even though I know this information could easily be accessed and used in some way that I have no control over. As a result, I continually find myself justifying my actions through thoughts of, “Well, I haven’t done anything illegal that I need to hide,” or, “That picture or google search might be a bit embarrassing but in the long run, it’s not a big deal” instead of curbing these activities. This denial of any serious repercussions of another person gaining access to my life led me to question whether or not I truly felt this lax about it, or if it was simply a convenient way for me to bury my real fear and anxiety about the decrease in true privacy, particularly as I don’t foresee myself giving up my computer or phone anytime soon. I have no doubts that this is a question that I will continue to struggle with for a long time.