Gilles Deleuze’s Societies of Control | MyPaperHub

In the article, Gilles Deleuze identifies the replacement of disciplinary societies by the societies of control. He argues that the disciplinary societies that Foucault evaluated are gradually fading away and societies of control are taking their place in the society. In his analysis, Foucault asserts that people are in a constant process of moving from one enclosed environment to another. Deleuze considers the various institutions including hospitals and schools as evolving into societies of control. They never cease to incorporate reforms and remain in a transient state that is time bound. According to Deleuze, the disciplinary societies are changing, and they will ultimately become societies of control (Deleuze1988). This paper will entail an analysis of Deleuze’s “societies of control” while taking into consideration Foucault’s perspective on “disciplinary societies.”

Gilles uses the context of Foucault in his analysis of eighteenth and nineteenth century systems to provide a perspective on the issue. He includes a discussion involving Foucault’s location of disciplinary societies. According to Foucault, such societies operate as main sites of confinement in the society that involve the movement of people from one closed site to another. The different sites including the family have their laws that the people are expected to follow. People move from various sites of confinement including schools, barracks, factories, hospitals and prisons. Foucault considers these institutions as sites of confinement that serve as restrictions in the society (Deleuze1988)

An analysis of Foucault’s vision of society reveals the differences in his model compared to Deleuze’s. Foucault considers the different environments in social institutions as ideal environments of an enclosure. The use of factories, as an illustration, supports Foucault’s hypothesis. A factory requires concentration and the distribution of space. Other aspects that support Foucault’s view of society through the use of a factor as an example includes time and productivity through the combination of different dimensions. In his model, Foucault recognized the transient nature of his model in its succession of the societies of sovereignty (McKinlay & Starkey, 1998).

The divergent view of Deleuze in the analysis of the factory reveals the differences between their perspectives of the society. The factory functions in the anticipated capitalistic design in the disciplinary society. It strives to maximize productivity through the use of available resources including time and space. It also ensures productivity through the reduction of the involved costs such as wages. Deleuze’s society of control suggests different functions of institutions equivalent to a factory (Deleuze2010). Corporations have become a replacement of factories and perform in a different ideology from Foucault’s perspective. 

In the society of control, corporations that have replaced factories incentivize rivalry and awards the employees based on merit. A corporation has a continuous control to ensure the replacement of the examination. Replace the examination means that there is no end to achieve or seek as evident in the disciplinary society. A significant difference, therefore, exists in the mechanisms of factories in Foucault’s ideology and Deleuze’s opinion. A factor provides an end for seeking while a corporation is “eternally” continuous. A factory is also composed a single body while a corporation can be considered an autonomous spirit (O'Neill, 1986)

The ideas of confinement are different in the visions of the society in both Deleuze and Foucault’s model. In the latter, Foucault acknowledged the temporary nature of the disciplinary view of the society. He affirms that Napoleon’s actions contributed to the changes in the dynamic of institutions in the society. The aspect of discipline paved the way for new forces and rapidly changed after the Second World War (Deleuze, 1992). The implication was the complete change of the disciplinary societies. Foucault asserts that during this time, the confinement sites including schools, hospitals, and other institutions experienced significant change. 

Deleuze also examines the difference of disciplinary societies and control societies through their administration. He makes the point that the societies of discipline are given or donated to developing countries that have cheap labor and manipulation of violence and power. Deleuze ascribes disciplinary societies to countries that do not have control and enjoy cheaper labor than developed countries. Such societies thrive in countries that are susceptible to manipulation of violence and power. According to Deleuze, it is a rare phenomenon to develop a society of discipline in developed countries because of the lack of mediation between the institutions and the society (Deleuze2010)

The amount of money in a society is an indicator of the distinction between a disciplinary society and a society of control. The monetary resources affect the interaction of institutions in the society and contribute to the establishment of control (Deleuze2010). The poor societies maintain high levels of discipline as opposed to the rich societies that strive to ensure control. The level of money in the society explains the evidence of societies of discipline in developing countries and societies of control in developed countries. The aspect of money changes the social dynamics and establish control in its availability or discipline in its absence or scarcity. 

The manipulation of power and control is one of the reasons for Deleuze’s pessimistic view of social control evident in societies of control. In societies of control, individuals strive to dominate and control other people. The availability of resources allows the exercise of control over other people in the society to maintain dominance and longevity. Societies of control utilize various innovations including technological innovations to maintain control over the people (O'Neill, 1986)Deleuze despises the social control because it undermines personal liberty and freedom. It is an impediment to the process of self-realization because of the control. 

Deleuze rejects societies of control because of the continuity that does not come to a stop. He affirms that one is never finished with anything. The institutions in societies of control including corporations and education systems remain in a state of eternal perpetuity. They are in a state that allows coexisting in one and the same modulation (Deleuze, 1992). In the disciplinary societies, the systems do not entrap people in such states of continuity and the disciplinary man is a discontinuous producer of energy. Deleuze, therefore, despises societies of control since he considers them a system of imprisonment for the people. 

Deleuze underscores the role of space and enclosures in social control. During the industrial revolution, spaces served economic purposes in the creation of goods and the workforce. The use of spaces in the creation of workforce involved the urbanization process in stimulating economic development. The import of cheap labor also contributed to the development of the workforce (Deleuze1988). However, Foucault addressed the establishment of societies of discipline rather than their evolvement into the societies of control. The societies of control do not present an opportunity for man to advance because of their restrictions. 

Space and enclosures are a necessity in the contemporary society to achieve control. The criminal justice system includes one of the examples of the use of enclosures and space to control people in the society. The aspects of space and enclosures enable the criminal justice system to propagate justice in the community (Chriss2007). The use of prisons enables law enforcement to exercise social control and separate the criminals from the people in the community. Deleuze considers the appropriate application of spaces and enclosures to foster productivity. He considers the industrial revolution and the use of spaces and enclosures in the societies of discipline in a productive manner. 

Social control in the contemporary society is relevant to different institutions including health institutions. The use of space and social control enables the regulation of health diseases and conditions in specific areas. In cities, social control is imperative to maintain health standards and prevent contamination and spread of contagious diseases such as cholera. Social control is essential since it allows the establishment of standards that govern different systems such as moral systems (Chriss2007)

Deleuze and Foucault provide a perspective on the society and its evolution. Foucault addresses societies as systems of discipline during the industrial revolution. He examines the use of spaces and enclosures in the birth of the capitalistic system. Deleuze’s view differs from the conceptions of Foucault on the mechanisms in the society. Their divergent analysis of factories reveals the differences between their perspectives of the society. Deleuze rejects the societies of control because of their continuous systems. He emphasizes the disciplinary society that considered man as discontinuous producer of energy. An analysis of Deleuze and Foucault’s social conceptions reveal significant differences. 






Chriss, J. J. (2007). Social control: An introduction. Polity.

Deleuze, G. (1992). Postscript on the Societies of Control. October59, 3-7.

Deleuze, G. (1988). Foucault. U of Minnesota Press.

Deleuze, G. (2010). “Postscript on the Societies of Control”(1992). Cultural theory: An anthology, 139-142.

O'Neill, J. (1986). The disciplinary society: from Weber to Foucault. British Journal of Sociology, 42-60.

McKinlay, A., & Starkey, K. (1998). Managing Foucault: Foucault, management and organization theory. Foucault, management and organization theory: From Panopticon to technologies of self, 1-13.


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