Right after the EGOS Colloquium in Edinburgh I had the opportunity to give a talk at the “Ghosts Conference York”, which is part of the Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism (SCOS). The following provides a short summary of my talk on “Secret organizers: The ‘spectrogenic’ process of profiling and the effects of ‘ghostly demarcations’”.
Profiles’ are important technologies of organizing that are used in a multiplicity of contexts: customer-profiling, profiling for employment screening, credit-scoring, criminal investigations, immigration policy, health-care management, forensic biometrics, etc. Profiles organize perception and seeing and they are important media in (algorithmic) decision-making. They are ‘used to make decisions, sometimes even without human intervention’ (Hildebrandt, 2008: 18). All profiles are abstractions. In the process of profiling images of the person are created for the purpose of diagnosis or prediction. In the process of profiling ‘complex personhood’ (Gordon, 1997) is reduced to a finite number of traits, indicators, etc. Created models or figures may be fictions but these fictions are operationally effective, as they shape and intervene in the world. In the paper profiles are theorized as ‘ghosts’ that are produced in a ‘spectrogenic process’ (Derrida, 1994). The spectrogenic process describes the process of abstraction, in which (a) thoughts, ideas, data etc. are ‘torn loose’ from the ‘living body’ and integrated in a more abstract or ‘artifactual body’ and (b) the return of the abstraction (ghost) to the world of real life events in the process of ‘application’ where it ‘haunts’ those with whom profiles are associated. Continue reading “SCOS Talk on “Secret organizers: The ‘spectrogenic’ process of profiling and the effects of ‘ghostly demarcations’””