It is becoming clear to me that the history of social control is not characterized as a movement that benevolently tried to move society into a civil reasoning public, but a movement that was about marking boundaries, creating the other, and establishing the subject that is to reap the benefits of that subsequent privilege. Science legitimated, gave reason, and created a foundation to the dominant hegemonic ideology that sought to vilify the working class and push them in the background. While the titans of industry and the harbingers of science sought modern social control as a benign set of operations to keep society from falling apart, it is clear that it was a movement based on finding socially acceptable ways to maintain ruling class ideologies that kept the masses complacent. In tandem it was also a movement that sought to erase any involvement of working class people as the core mechanism for which society is to become modernized (read: civil). When Kay notes that Vanderlip announces, “History is becoming more and more the story of industrial development” (pg 24) this is rhetoric that signals social control is not to better society on the whole, but just for a chosen few.
Additionally, I am not making the secondary point here that science or reason is inherently unbiased, where hegemonic norms sully its nature. I am making the point that science and reason’s nature cannot be “independent of history and culture” (pg 25); that it is the effects of hegemonic norms. Kay makes this point further in the readings:
“Somewhere in the scheme of things, Fosdick believed, there has to be a place for social intervention based on neither populist prejudice and mob rule not totalitarian coercion, but on principles of excellence, rationality and science….The role of the Rockefeller Foundation was to supply the resources and mechanisms for such a system of excellence, through processes of top-down democracy; science was its reservoir of theoretical knowledge and technical expertise.” (pg 33, emphasis mine)
The effects of this movement has truly been internalized by the populace today and shows no signs of allaying.
One of the main outcomes of this movement internalized by individuals in modern society is the ideology of meritocracy. Just as eugenics was based in the idea that social ills could be done away with if control is had over one’s actions, we see the materializing of this in the ideology of meritocracy. This ideology dictates if you are not progressing with the rest of society (considering that society is always moving forward!) there is something wrong with you. Barbara Ehrenreich in Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America in referencing the pervasiveness and disingenuousness of such an ideology says, “One could think of other possible means of self-improvement—through education, for example, to acquire new “hard” skills, or by working for social changes that would benefit all. But in the world of positive thinking, the challenges are all interior and easily overcome through an effort of the will” (emphasis mine). She presents a talk visualized by the RSA Animate that goes into this further: