This article considers the contribution of radical South African philosopher Rick Turner to theories of ‘workers’ control’. Turner’s philosophical work, especially his book, The Eye of the Needle (1972), posited the workplace as a fundamental site of ‘participatory democracy’ and a space for the potential radical transformation of South African society. During the early 1970s, Turner’s philosophical writings, teaching at the University of Natal, and political activism in Durban helped galvanise a cohort of radical white students who joined in support of protesting black workers in the 1973 Durban mass strikes. The confluence of Turner’s ideas about workers’ control, the students’ activism, and the collective action of the black working class gave South Africa’s labour movement a radically democratic, shop-floor orientation that deserves a revival in the new South Africa.
Roar Høstaker and Agnete Vabø
Research and higher education are, to a greater extent, being governed and evaluated by other than fellow scholars. These changes are discussed in relation to Gilles Deleuze's notion of a transition from 'societies of discipline' to what he called 'societies of control'. This involves a shift from pyramidshaped organisations, built upon authority, to a set of lateral controls and hybrid power structures. This theory and its logic are compared with other theories that have been used to explain such changes in higher education: New Public Management, new modes of knowledge production, academic capitalism, trust and the role of higher education in social reproduction. The development of lateral controls is analysed in relation to the de-coupling of the state as the guarantor of academic quality, the changing status of the academic disciplines and scientific employees, managerialism, the new modularised study programmes and the changing position of external stakeholders. The article, drawing on empirical studies from higher education in Norway, suggests possible affects of the change to 'societies of control' on research, teaching and learning in higher education.
An Impact Case Study of Anthropological Collaboration in Tobacco Control
Andrew Russell and Sue Lewis
In this article we consider the 'impact case study' (ICS) as a specific kind of document, one which, as part of the U.K.'s Research Excellence Framework (REF), enforces a common template for the description and measurement of the social and economic effects of research in U.K. higher education. We track the development of an ICS describing anthropological research in tobacco control which, after many iterations, was not submitted as part of the REF. We ask 'what is impact?' in cases where anthropological research is based on principles of collaboration and serendipity rather than the mechanistic 'research > translation > impact > measurement' model which an ICS is expected to follow. What is included and what excluded by the strictures of such a model? We are generally supportive of the impact agenda, feeling that university resources and activities have a vital role to play in progressive social change. However, the way 'impact' is recorded, appraised and measured in an ICS only captures a small proportion of the effects of anthropological research, and encourages particular forms of public engagement while discounting others.
The Daily Practice of Welfare Control
This article focuses on the means by which the state controls welfare recipients in France. The paradox of these actions, which are made in the name of legal rigor but are characterized by ambivalence and the discretionary power of grassroots agents, reveals the broader functioning of a government over the poor. These actions are based on the combination of a multitude of individual relationships, which, although unevenly coordinated, derive from the structural rationale of the post-welfare era. Individualization and uncertainty signal not so much a disaggregation of the state as a consistent mode of governance in which discretion and leeway accorded to street-level bureaucrats are necessary for the state to exert power over citizens' behaviors.
Danish university reform in the context of modern governance
Susan Wright and Jakob Williams Ørberg
In 2003 the Danish government reformed universities to 'set them free' from the state. Yet ministers are actively trying to shape universities and even set research agendas. How does the government's notion of 'freedom' reconcile independence with control? We identify three discourses of freedom: freedom to use academic judgement over what to research, teach, publish and say publicly; a free trade discourse where universities are free to pursue profit; and a modernising state discourse where government steers universities to contribute to the knowledge economy. Danish universities were reformed as part of the modernisation of the welfare state. We explore the assemblage of administrative and funding mechanisms through which the government now steers independent organisations: a chain of contracts for outsourced services, newly appointed managers, output payments and accrual accounting. While responsibility for achieving government policy is passed downwards through the independent organisation, formal lines of accountability run back up to the government. University leaders and academics are set free to manoeuvre within the system, but their economic survival is firmly dependent on responsiveness to centralised steering mechanisms
How Liberians Responded to the Ebola Epidemic Containment Measures
This article examines how populations affected by the Ebola epidemic in Liberia reacted to the implementation of mandatory, state-imposed quarantine as a way of curtailing transmission. The ethnography, based on in-depth fieldwork in both urban and rural areas, shows how mandatory quarantine caused severe social consequences for both people’s perceptions of epidemic control and their health-seeking behaviours. The authoritarian imposition of this public-health measure soon became a driver of social fear that contributed to the divide between institutions and population, jeopardising the control of transmission. Its implementation overshadowed more acceptable local quarantine measures that communities were organising to protect themselves from transmission. The analysis argues that quarantine in Liberia was counterproductive and suggests alternatives to epidemic control rooted in social acceptance and local practices.
Policing, International Summitry, and the G20 Experiment in Brisbane
This article considers social control mechanisms that targeted public protest at a particular summit, the Brisbane G20, first by examining the management of previous gatherings (Miami and Toronto), and then by looking at the more specific, nuanced techniques deployed in Brisbane in 2014. Despite its violence, the Toronto G20 added a few legal and policing innovations, including designated free speech zones, controlled areas of movement, and, albeit unsuccessfully, the extensive use of public relations. The lessons of Toronto were directly incorporated into the security architecture of Brisbane’s policing and social control effort. Brisbane witnessed one of the more successful efforts at limiting and arguably shutting down social protest in its entirety. Protest narratives were fastidiously managed and shaped by the Queensland Police Service and affiliated agencies. As a response, alternative protest techniques, including counter-summits, were ostensibly fashioned to circumvent such a restrictive security architecture, but were marginalized in doing so.
Carol Bohmer and Amy Shuman
For immigration authorities, the goal of asylum hearings is to differentiate between economic migrants and legitimate political asylum seekers. However, in the stories asylum seekers tell, these categories often blur. Nevertheless, the asylum process uses this differentiation to conceal inequities in the system, and to justify denials. This article examines political asylum as a transnational and culturally local process and argues that contradictions between protection and control underlie some of the seemingly absurd denials of asylum applications.
The Repressive Policing of Contention in Queensland under Frederic Urquhart
Australian history is littered with examples of situations in which police have engaged in the use of force—in some cases, disproportionate violence—to maintain order and stability. In addition to this effort to control the population and ensure social order, extreme use of force was a key factor in repressing civil dissent and preventing marginalized communities from exercising their voice within the social discourse. Former Queensland Police Commissioner Frederic Urquhart was at the forefront of several high-profile examples of police enforcing social control during his tenure with the Queensland police, including the punitive expeditions of the Native Mounted Police Force, the civil disorder of the 1912 general strike, and the chaos associated with the 1919 Red Flag riots. In developing an appreciation for Urquhart’s behavior and motivations, it can be seen that the Queensland police have always served as a body dedicated to ensuring conformity through any means necessary.
Dilemmas in an Ethnographic Study of Health Policy Makers
Serena Heckler and Andrew Russell
In this article we report on collaborative, ethnographic research investigating the first regional tobacco control office in the U.K. and some of the dilemmas it poses. The ideal of collaboration is fully realisable in this setting, where the participants are both eager and qualified to contribute meaningfully to the project. However, the fulfilment of such an ideal poses its own problems. For example, the educational level and professional expertise of some participants allows them to fully engage with the theoretical framework to the extent that they could, if allowed, rewrite manuscripts. Other issues are more subtle, such as how to establish appropriate boundaries between the researcher and the tobacco control office staff. We suggest that the collaborative research model presupposes differentials of power, education and culture between researchers and participants that do not necessarily apply in the case of research in such settings. Where these differentials are lacking, the field is open for dominant participants to assume `undue influence' over the research project. To prevent this, we have reinstated boundaries between object and subject that were originally dissolved as part of the collaborative model. As a result, our project is maintaining a delicate balance between the conflicting aims of objectivity and collaboration.