That we (society) want to be seen as individuals plays into the hands of those in power. Power is strengthened through processes of individualisation and normalisation. As we buy into the belief that we possess something within ourselves that makes us an individual we reference the normal as something against which to stand out. This desire for individuality – the cult of the self – that ties this individuality to own our identity and employs it thus as a means of control and power.
Foucault believed that power was productive. In this matter he stood opposed to the Marxist view that power was something against which the proletariat must resist. Class struggle was not viewed by Foucault as fundamental. But I wonder what he means by productive. Perhaps it was linked to his observation that power, in addition to constraining and limiting, also seduced and induced. By this observation would we be able to assert that relationships between lovers were relationships of power? How is seduction productive?
Contestation in power relationships involve strategies that include court action by others associated with a work related blog post. The story of Jessica Cutler finds a day in court driven by an ex-lover/worker/colleague. They sure can be messy.
Jessica Cutler, blogging as the Washingtonienne, described in reasonably graphic details her alleged sexual encounters with a number of people in and around Washinton DC. She was fired for the misuse of government property (computers) as she kept her private blog updated during working hours and using work computers. But reading through the archive of her blog (the blog was removed on the day of her sacking) I could find little that would support an assertion that she was blogging as a means to achieve enlightenment, self awareness, or emancipation. To the contrary, the blog posts are non-reflexive and merely descriptive of her sex life. On a couple of occasions she justifies receiving money for sex on the basis of her meager salary.
Clearly Cutler’s blog was a personal blog and she blogged about her work. These two facts place the blog in the domain of investigation for my research. But I would be hard pressed to support an argument that it was even a site of contestation in a power relationship in that she appears to be driven by little more than the achievement of self-gratification. I wonder though about her motives in providing an obfuscated description of each of the people she claims to have been involved with. Was it attention seeking? Was she developing a means by which she had leverage over one or more of her partners?
These questions bring me to the question: What of all the work-related personal blogs that don’t lead to a person being sacked? Are these sites of contestation in a power relationship? If an employee blogs with the knowledge and approval of their boss have they already submitted themselves as subjects of an existing power relationship?