Kind of prohibition : alcohol administration in pre-computer Ontario, Canada 1927-1975
Thompson, Scott Ness
Master of Arts
SubjectLiquor laws (Ontario, History)
Alcoholic beverage industry (Government policy, Ontario)
Temperance (Ontario, History)
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This thesis describes in detail the development of a vast bureaucracy of surveillance by provincial authorities around alcohol control, and concerns itself with the categories employed in a vast social sorting operation of drinkers undertaken from 1927 into the 1970s when the system was finally discontinued. In short, at issue are the contact points where categories are flush with material technologies. This is a history lesson in surveillance, the theoretical relevance of which for today lies precisely in the extraordinary transformations it made possible in terms of social identity construction and control. The social sorts accomplished by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), working in conjunction with three levels of government agencies and police forces, could transform the most private interests into public matters, in the process recategorizing individuals and redefining their material possessions and property. Beyond technology is, then, the power that accrues to those and their cohorts who use the categorization of such personal information for varied and politically motivated purposes of social control. In short, the concern expressed here is with an all-too-contemporary history - “list” making - and its social consequences. To use the ominous words of Edwin Black (2001 ; 92) in his study of the informational equivalent of blitzkrieg, that is, the speed-processing of data by Hollerith machines, when “lists were everywhere” the politics of race became diabolical.