Biopolitics and the Governance of Genetic Capital in GATTACA



Andrew Niccol’s (1997) GATTACA is a provocative film that can be “read” on at least two levels: that of “society” and social organization and that of the “individual” (self-regulation and social interaction). GATTACA is a tale of authoritarian rule, the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, and social injustice. At the interactionist level, GATTACA is a case study in what Erving Goffman called the “management of spoiled identity” (1963). Jerome Morrow is Navigator First Class at Gattaca Aerospace Corporation. He is a member of an elite class. Jerome’s daily ritual consists of vigorous exfoliating of his entire body; rigorous vacuuming of his workstation and home; and very careful disposal of skin, hair, and other traces of his existence. Jerome needs to avoid contamination; he must limit the amount of his “in-valid self left in the valid world.” Jerome is not a man possessed by an obsessive-compulsive impulse for cleanliness. He is engaged in the very careful management of what Goffman (1963) called a “virtual social identity,” carefully manipulating “social information” in the presentation of himself to others.


Eighteenth Century Liberal Democracy Social Medicine Social Management Disciplinary Technique 
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© Jon Frauley 2010

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