The Spectrum of Control: A Social Theory of the Smart City

First Monday, Vol. 20, No. 7, July 2015

U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-26

23 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2015

See all articles by Jathan Sadowski

Jathan Sadowski

Arizona State University (ASU)

Frank A. Pasquale

Brooklyn Law School; Yale University - Yale Information Society Project

Date Written: August 31, 2015

Abstract

There is a certain allure to the idea that cities allow a person to both feel at home and like a stranger in the same place. That one can know the streets and shops, avenues and alleys, while also going days without being recognized. But as elites fill cities with “smart” technologies — turning them into platforms for the “Internet of Things” (IoT): sensors and computation embedded within physical objects that then connect, communicate, and/or transmit information with or between each other through the Internet — there is little escape from a seamless web of surveillance and power. This paper will outline a social theory of the “smart city” by developing our Deleuzian concept of the “spectrum of control.” We present two illustrative examples: biometric surveillance as a form of monitoring, and automated policing as a particularly brutal and exacting form of manipulation. We conclude by offering normative guidelines for governance of the pervasive surveillance and control mechanisms that constitute an emerging critical infrastructure of the “smart city.”

Keywords: big data, smartphone, RFID, surveillance, Deleuze, digital technologies, technocrats, facial recognition

Suggested Citation

Sadowski, Jathan and Pasquale, Frank A., The Spectrum of Control: A Social Theory of the Smart City (August 31, 2015). First Monday, Vol. 20, No. 7, July 2015, U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-26, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2653860

Jathan Sadowski

Arizona State University (ASU) ( email )

Farmer Building 440G PO Box 872011
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

Frank A. Pasquale (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

Yale University - Yale Information Society Project ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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