Inclusionary and Exclusionary Control
In the discussion of surveillance technologies, professional middle-class parents suggest that they will not impose “draconian measures” such as drug testing because they have good kids who confess to them and whom they therefore trust. Of course, parents are not unanimous in their determination of what constitutes trustworthy behavior. Some parents might be accepting of an occasional drink or even experimentation with illegal drugs; other parents would find these same behaviors unacceptable. But as long as children remain openly confessional and apparently trustworthy, the “good kids” of elite parents are subject to the individualized control and oversight that their parents prefer to the straightforward discipline emerging from the use of technological devices. Professional middle-class parents communicate, remain involved, and allow freedom within personalized and very intense surveillance. Through these methods the parents hope to stay close enough to know what is going on with their children and to ensure that their children pursue behaviors that will preserve an elite class position down the road. The professional middle – class parents also rely on these methods of engagement to monitor well-being and self-confidence. The simultaneous demands of accomplishment and happiness, and of working hard while appearing to find work effortless, exist as enormous pressures in the lives of successful adolescent children.6 The fact that the parents themselves may not know how to produce the children they want and hold out highly elusive and indefinite goals (e. g., how do you know when your children are happy and passionate?) constitute all the more reason for parents to remain intensely attentive.
The contemporary social theorist Nikolas Rose describes two sets of control strategies: inclusion and exclusion.7 Inclusionary control, he explains,
relies on constant evaluation according to rules that can change without warning. In such a system, evaluation is ongoing and built into all activities. In this context, the process of becoming is perpetual, and surveillance is both built into everyday existence and “dispersed across the time and space of ordinary life.”8 Thus, surveillance may be less apparent in control strategies than in disciplinary ones such as Bentham’s panopticon (as analyzed by Foucault).9 But the surveillance is no less real.
Exclusionary control stands in contrast to inclusionary control. And Rose suggests that it can take two different forms. In some cases, “excluded” individuals are subject to “reeducation” and then reincorporated into civil society: an example would be when drug-using teens are sent to “treatment centers” for rehabilitation. In more extreme cases, the “excluded” remain confined and separate: an example would be when “hardened” criminals are locked in jail for life.10
On a daily basis, it would appear that the professional middle-class family operates far more often on the principles of inclusionary control than of exclusionary control.11 In turn, inclusionary control rests equally on the assumption of intimacy, as well as on the veneer of goodness (on the part of the kids) and the veneer of trust (on the part of the parents). Professional middle-class parents engage in negotiation with their children, shift the rules as their children mature, and subject children to ongoing assessments, the terms of which may be unclear. The professional middle-class parents indicate that in their households control is a constant process: every activity at every moment—from school to soccer to watching movies—becomes an opportunity for children to reveal themselves, a mechanism for self-improvement, and a means through which a child can discover her or his own potential.12 Moreover, inclusionary control is an endless project: children are not “finished” when they head for college or even when they graduate. In fact, as with the first-year student in my office who needed to discuss her course options with her mother before making a decision, control remains a persistent and ongoing strategy, abetted by the constant electronic communication between parents and children.13
The practices of inclusionary control are burdensome. From time to time professional middle-class parents might attempt to relieve themselves of these burdens in their dealings with their teenage children. They might, for example, opt for some kinds of formal enclosures such as a gated community or a private boarding school. But for the most part, professional middle-class parents appear to welcome the burdens of parenting out of control and choose the ongoing construction of (and negotiation about) the limits of what constitutes acceptable behavior.
As professional middle-class parents talk about how they decide whether to engage in the disciplinary practices of technological surveillance, they suggest that they would need to see some significant shift in behavior from that which they find acceptable and especially about which their children have not confessed. Only a few of those who were interviewed had relied on such devices as the keystroke reader or had instituted a policy of home drug testing with a teen. However, professional middle-class parents contradict their own preferences when they discuss their reasons for these actions. Then they suggest that something as ordinary as obstinate behavior or nighttime wandering provided the basis for making the shift from inclusionary strategies of control to those that might appear more exclusionary or even more traditionally “disciplinary” or punishing.14
The sociologists Dawn Moore and Kevin Haggerty have identified home drug testing as an appropriate part of a strategy of inclusionary control (at least in relation to other antidrug strategies). They write,
In keeping with the disease trope, home drug testing is a strategy of inclusion, situating the detection and punishment of criminal behaviors in the compassionate embrace of the family. In contrast, the state’s anti-drug policies constitute a strategy of exclusion, which follows the trope of criminality, to remove individuals from their usual social settings, subjecting them to more intensive forms of repression.15
Moore and Haggerty thus view the family as being a single unit, and a “compassionate” one at that. But to think this way is to ignore the ways in which the family itself can operate on the basis of both inclusion and exclusion and can simultaneously embody different modes of control in addition to both discipline and punishment.
As the discussion in chapter 7 showed, professional middle-class families do want to contain deviance within the embrace of the family, and, to be sure, they also view professionals standing outside the family—the doctors, the counselors—as essentially on their side, as operating with their interests at
heart, and therefore as worthy of their confidences. But from the perspective of the usual practices of the professional middle-class family, home drug testing is viewed not as a part of an inclusionary strategy of control but as a disciplinary one that might result in the implementation of exclusionary strategies. The teen who might need drug testing is no longer acting like himself or herself but has become the “other.” The same is true of the notion of tracking driving with a GPS system or reading keystrokes on the computer. These are looked at askance, at least in part because they overtly shift the mode of parenting from control to discipline with clear limits. And even when used, these (potentially stealth) technologies—along with the drug testing—are often hopefully temporary expedients: children who meet their parents’ expectations for good behavior and clean drug tests are returned to the embrace of the family; they move, then, from being one of them—the other—to being one of us (again). This was the case for Beth O’Brien, who used the keystroke program secretly to gather information in order to better control her daughter Melissa: “It made us aware of how to manage her differently.”