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Crime, Culture and Control in the Ultramodern Age

We now live in a pre-crime society, in which information technology strategies and techniques such as predictive policing, actuarial justice and surveillance penology are used to achieve hyper-securitization.

However, such securitization comes at a cost – the criminalization of everyday life is guaranteed, justice functions as an algorithmic industry and punishment is administered through dataveillance regimes.

This pioneering book explores relevant theories, developing technologies and institutional practices and explains how the pre-crime society operates in the ‘ultramodern’ age of digital reality construction. Reviewing pre-crime's cultural and political effects, the authors propose new directions in crime control policy.

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It is or contention that this book, The Pre-Crime Society: Crime, Culture and Control in the Ultramodern Age, furthers a project that was initiated and subsequently developed within two of our previous volumes (Arrigo & Milovanovic, 2009; Arrigo, Bersot & Sellers, 2011). Among the themes shared by these volumes was a sustained focus on the philosophical currents and cultural intensities that produce de-vitalizing and finalizing laws of shared human captivity (Arrigo & Sellers, 2018).1 These laws originate in the captivity of forms (Plato, 2008), including the forms of human abstraction and their sequelae (Arrigo & Polizzi, 2018).

In the first of these volumes, Bruce Arrigo and Dragan Milovanovic (2009) argued for a ‘revolution in penology’ (pp. 3–8). As the authors explained, this revolution begins with a radical critique of subjectivity (i.e. human capital abstracted) and the constitutive forces into and out of which this subjectivity both shapes and is shaped by a ‘society of captives’ (pp. 170–95). This is the captivity of the kept and their keepers, the watched and their watchers in which risk-as-currency prevails as trade. The authors further asserted that when the excesses of this captivity are maintained in consciousness, through dialogical encounters, and in material expressions of the same, then they (these excesses) nurture the captivity of society. This is the captivity of ontology (i.e. of being human), and of epistemology (i.e. of human relating).2 The maintenance of these conditions forestalls a ‘people yet to come’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1994, p. 108), and forecloses what Hardt and Negri (2004) have described as the ‘multitude’ (pp. 97–157).

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It is just when people are all engaged in snooping on themselves and one another that they become anesthetized to the whole process. … As information itself becomes the largest business in the world, data banks know more about individual people than the people do themselves. The more the data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist. (McLuhan, 1970, pp. 12–13)

In the societies of control, on the other hand, what is important is no longer either a signature or a number, but a code: the code is a password, while on the other hand [Foucauldian] disciplinary societies are regulated by watchwords (as much as from the point of view of integration as from that of resistance). The numerical language of control is made of codes that mark access to information, or reject it. We no longer find ourselves dealing with the mass/individual pair. Individuals have become ‘dividuals’, and masses, samples, data, markets, or ‘banks’. … The disciplinary [subject] was a discontinuous producer of energy, but the [subject] of control is undulatory, in orbit, in a continuous network. (Deleuze, 1992, p. 6)

What happens to culture when the experience of privacy, as we have lived it, disappears? What happens to (co)existence when the commercialism of surveillance capitalism fetishizes ‘life mining’ (van Dijck, 2014, p. 198) expressed through the recursive logics of new social media?

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