Control 2021

From the Brexit campaign with its call to ‘take back control’, to cultural fashions like the Marie Kondo phenomenon, through to criminological and sociological theories on self-control and socialisation, or political discourses around borders and immigration – everywhere we look, we find evidence of an intense preoccupation with ‘control’. A desire for and a drive to control can be identified as a factor common to some of the most important phenomena and processes underway in the world today. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised a number of issues around control with new urgency, highlighting tensions between personal liberty and control of public health, for example. In 2021, we will look at the new forms of control that are arising in the twenty-first century, from “surveillance capitalism” (Zuboff 2018), to ‘mindfulness’ as a technique for social control and self-pacification (Purser 2019). We also trace the long history of ideas, regimes and practices related to control.

Feature image: Broken, installation by Dennis Josef Meseg, protesting violence against women in Bonn, 2021 (detail). Photographer: Mika Baumeister via Unsplash