Forced Compliance

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Forced Compliance - Applin, S.A. and Fischer, M.D. (2011)

"Forced Compliance" is the forfeit of agency we have for many things that we do within our daily lives that may be against our desires but are required to live in the groups that we choose to live in. Maybe people don't want to use computers, but so much of what they do requires it within their community system that computer use (not necessarily ownership yet, but usage) has become a "forced compliance" for daily behavior [1].

Many facets of modern life are beginning to be designed to require not only network connectivity, but also computer access. We refer to this as "Forced Compliance." Forced Compliance (Applin and Fischer) is a subset of what Fussel [2] describes (with regard to the self-adjusting baseball style cap) as being something that:

... the buyer and user ... do the work formerly thought the obligation of the seller, who used to have to stock numerous sizes. It's like such other (prole) features of the contemporary scene as the jet plane and the supermarket, where convenience for the seller is disguised by publicity and fraud to pass for the convenience for the buyer. [2:70]

This has been described in great detail first by Toffler [3], who coined the term “Prosumer,” and later by Kotler [4] who expanded on its application. Forced compliance differs from the idea of the prosumer in that it is concerned primarily with the process and lack of choice for a labor task; the notion being that due to certain structures (primarily the replacement of service staff in industry with algorithms), people are forced to go online to complete processes vital to their livelihoods.

For a prosumer, the choice upon the consumer whether or not to participate in the “labor process” is largely still available [4]. With forced compliance, there is no choice or alternate to processes that are only available online and must be engaged with. Thus, forced compliance shares a foundation with the prosumer, but differs in its lack of choice of experience for the individual. The only choice for the individual in having “forced labor” in forced compliance is when (within a time frame) that person is required to complete that labor task. Thus, they have some flexibility to do those processes asynchronously. It is the outcome from this lack of choice for labor for forced compliance that contributes, in part, to the adaptation of asynchronicity. The unintended consequence of complications from the asynchronicity that is created from the various configurations that emerge from, in part, this multiplexed behavior.


1. Applin, S. Council Interview with Sally Applin. October 28, 2011. Online:

2. Fussel, P. Class: A Guide Through the American Status System; Simon & Schuster Touchstone: New York, USA, 1983.

3. Toffler, A. Future Shock. William Morrow and Co: New York, USA, 1980.

4. Kotler, P. The Prosumer Movement: a New Challenge For Marketers. In Advances in Consumer Research 13, pp. 510-513. (ed.) Richard J. Lutz. Proceedings of the Association for Consumer Research: Provo, UT, 1986. Online: