Producing the transparent subject
This chapter explores the hegemonic project of transparency through its effects on the subject. In particular, I examine how the discourse of transparency is put to work as an ethics for the conduct of the self in society and an esteemed category of being through the collection of personal information, given or submitted through what I call, drawing on Foucault’s later work around subjectivity and discourse, ‘acts of truth’. These acts of truth signal the internalisation of dominant discourse within the subject. Such technologies for producing these acts of truth include surveillance, big data analytics, the tracking of individual online behaviour, interests and history, self-disclosure technologies such as social media and self-tracking devices. As I put forward here, these technologies are coupled with legislative means through which the state legitimises its pursuit of the transparent subject, including laws to ban the wearing of the Islamic veil in public spaces and even, as discussed here, whistleblowing laws. Together, the techniques for appropriating transparent subjects demonstrate an overwhelming concentration of information about the individual in the hands of powerful organisations (both State and non-state), in a reversal of the original conceit of the transparency discourse. But the effects of this are, as explored here, deeply delimiting and depoliticising, working to cast doubt on anything hidden or closed.