During the COVID-19 pandemic, three long-established forms of power—sovereign, disciplinary, and regulatory—have been conspicuously deployed around the world, as seen in lockdowns, quarantines, and behavioral rules. The pandemic has also revealed a fourth form of power: sensory power, which emerged with the rapid evolution of sensing and surveillance technologies. The data collected by tracking and tracing constitutes a planetary ecosystem for governing people. Whether this leads to digital dictatorships or digital democracies, the growth of sensory power will change the relationship between states and citizens in the twenty-first century.
How the Pandemic Made Sensory Power Visible
Engin Isin is a professor of international politics at Queen Mary University of London and the University of London Institute in Paris. Parts of this essay are adapted from an article he coauthored with Evelyn Ruppert, “The Birth of Sensory Power: How a Pandemic Made It Visible?” published by the journal Big Data & Society in November 2020.
Engin Isin; How the Pandemic Made Sensory Power Visible. Current History 1 January 2022; 121 (831): 10–16. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/curh.2022.121.831.10
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