Anthropology of the Contemporary: New Forms of Power in China’s Social Credit System
In this essay I am exploring how Foucault’ concept of power, power as a relationship (source), be used to analyze the conditions in which Chinese citizens are living out what some call “George Orwell’s 1984?” I’ll begin by describing from secondary sources, China’s Social Credit System(SCS) I’ll then transition to explaining what Foucault’s conception of power is; power in its many different forms. I’ll finish on applying a Foucaudian analysis of China’s Social Credit System - looking at forms of resistance and potentially offering up solutions to combat and outwit the system itself (finding the limits or the holes in such a system).
Since Foucault died in 1984, his critique is limited; limited because he wasn’t alive during the age of the Internet, the rise of social media giants, and artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology wasn’t invented during his time. As an “anthropologist of the contemporary” (to follow Rabinow’s line of work), how can I begin to understand new forms of power that have been developed and are being tested and implemented not only in China but also attempts around the world - such as predictive policing.
What is currently happening in China -a micro- history of the Social Credit System:
“The State Council issued the Planning Outline of Social Credit System Construction (2014-2020) to accelerate the construction of social credit system and create the honest and trustworthy economic and social environment. Tax credit is an essential part of this first special planning of national social credit system construction in China. Lately, the State Administration of Taxation (”SAT”) issued the Administrative Measures for Taxpayer Credit and the Measures for Publishing the Information on Serious Tax Cases in a bid to create the incentive mechanism for honest taxpayers and the penalty mechanism for dishonest taxpayers and to develop the upgraded version of tax credit system construction.” (https://web.archive.org/web/20151227094752/http://www.chinatax.gov.cn/2013/n2925/n2957/c778860/content.html)
Foucault’s understanding of power:
Additional Notes: It would be helpful to understand why China is implementing this SCS, what historical and political events occurred which influenced China’s President XXXX to react with implementing the SCS, what technologies they are using to enforce control, etc.
*Which part of China?
*Do I need to learn another language in order to conduct fieldwork in China?
*Do I need to learn how to code in order to understand artificial intelligence?
The plan itself:
Film Producer: Tahir Hamut
China Law and Policy: https://chinalawandpolicy.com/tag/social-credit-system/
Sources from Rachel Botsman Book: Who Can you Trust?