This volume explores activism, research and critique in the age of digital subjects and objects and Big Data capitalism after a digital turn said to have radically transformed our political futures. Optimists assert that the ‘digital’ promises: new forms of community and ways of knowing and sensing, innovation, participatory culture, networked activism, and distributed democracy. Pessimists argue that digital technologies have extended domination via new forms of control, networked authoritarianism and exploitation, dehumanization and the surveillance society. Leading international scholars present varied interdisciplinary assessments of such claims – in theory and via dialogue – and of the digital’s impact on society and the potentials, pitfalls, limits and ideologies, of digital activism. They reflect on whether computational social science, digital humanities and ubiquitous datafication lead to digital positivism that threatens critical research or lead to new horizons in theory and society.Book Details
After President Trump’s election, BREXIT and the widespread rise of far-Right political parties, much public discussion has intensely focused on populism and authoritarianism. In the middle of the twentieth century, members of the early Frankfurt School prolifically studied and theorized fascism and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States. In this volume, leading European and American scholars apply insights from the early Frankfurt School to present-day authoritarian populism, including the Trump phenomenon and related developments across the globe. Chapters are arranged into three sections exploring different aspects of the topic: theories, historical foundations, and manifestations via social media. Contributions examine the vital political, psychological and anthropological theories of early Frankfurt School thinkers, and how their insights could be applied now amidst the insecurities and confusions of twenty-first century life. The many theorists considered include Adorno, Fromm, Löwenthal and Marcuse, alongside analysis of Austrian Facebook pages and Trump’s tweets and operatic media drama. This book is a major contribution towards deeper understanding of populism’s resurgence in the age of digital capitalism.Book Details
Books about Oxford have generally focused on the University rather than the city. This original book on the local politics of Oxford City from 1830 to 1980 is based on a comprehensive analysis of primary sources and tells the story of the city’s progressive politics. The book traces this history from Chartism and electoral reform in the mid-nineteenth century, through the early years of socialism to the impact of communism in the interwar period, the struggle between nuclear disarmers and Gaitskellites in the 1960s and the impact of the new revolutionary left in the late 1970s. Throughout the narrative, the book contrasts the two approaches of those engaged in progressive politics, those who focused on the politics of reform and improved government and those who preferred the politics of revolt, protest and revolutionary rhetoric. The author argues that a central feature of this history has been the co-existence and interaction of working- and middle- class elements. It rediscovers a rich heritage, a fascinating story and offers a rare wide-ranging chronological narrative of local UK city politics. Through its extensive quotes from primary sources, the book presents a vivid picture of local politics over 150 years.Book Details
While the individual elements of the propaganda system (or filters) identified by the Propaganda Model (PM) – ownership, advertising, sources, flak and anti-communism – have previously been the focus of much scholarly attention, their systematisation in a model, empirical corroboration and historicisation have made the PM a useful tool for media analysis across cultural and geographical boundaries.
Despite the wealth of scholarly research Herman and Chomsky’s work has set into motion over the past decades, the PM has been subjected to marginalisation, poorly informed critiques and misrepresentations. Interestingly, while the PM enables researchers to form discerning predictions as regards corporate media performance, Herman and Chomsky had further predicted that the PM itself would meet with such marginalisation and contempt.
In current theoretical and empirical studies of mass media performance, uses of the PM continue, nonetheless, to yield important insights into the workings of political and economic power in society, due in large measure to the model’s considerable explanatory power.Book Details
A response is needed to the numerous issues spurred by the expansion of the gig economy, where flexible patterns of employment prevail in contrast to permanent jobs. In this context of the exponential growth of the digital economy and underlying business models the largest nationwide study of its kind into the impact of the working conditions in the UK music industry ‘Can Music Make You Sick?’ has been conducted by MusicTank/University of Westminster.
This research suggests the need to consider the future of work not only from an economic or employment law perspective but from a mental health one too. What are the psychological implications of precarious work and how are factors such as financial instability, the feedback economy and personal relationships reflected in mental health outcomes or connected to the business relationships most musicians and other gig economy participants work under?
Authors Sally-Anne Gross, George Musgrave and Laima Janciute consider which policy measures may help or harm gig economy workers including the taxation of self-employed workers, a universal basic income, education around mental health issues and access to mental health support.Book Details
The portrayal of disfigurement in the UK media must change. This policy brief is based on recent research that found a general negative and sensationalised attitude towards disfigurement in the media.
Disfigurement is a condition that can affect anyone at any time in life regardless their social or demographic background due to accidents or health conditions or be congenital. In the UK, one in 111 people have facial disfigurements.
In order to improve the ways in which media portray disfigurement, this policy brief argues that media should move away from sensationalised coverage on disfigurement and focus instead on the lived experiences of individuals with this condition. It recommends strengthening diversity-oriented editorial practices and training as well as media literacy education. In addition, it addresses the lack of guidelines on the portrayal of disfigurement and urges regulatory bodies to be more efficient in handling complaints.Book Details
Taste usually occupies the bottom of the sensorial hierarchy, as the quintessentially hedonistic sense, too close to the animal, the elemental and the corporeal, and for this reason disciplined and moralised. At the same time, taste is indissolubly tied to knowledge. To taste is to discriminate, emit judgement, enter an unstable domain of synaesthetic normativity where the certainty of metaphysical categories begins to crumble. This second title in the ‘Law and the Senses’ series explores law using taste as a conceptual and ontological category able to unsettle legal certainties, and a promising tool whereby to investigate the materiality of law’s relation to the world. For what else is law’s reduction of the world into legal categories, if not law’s ingesting the world by tasting it, and emitting moral and legal judgements accordingly? Through various topics including coffee, wine, craft cider and Japanese knotweed, this volume explores the normativities that shape the way taste is felt and categorised, within and beyond subjective, phenomenological and human dimensions. The result is an original interdisciplinary volume – complete with seven speculative ‘recipes’ – dedicated to a rarely explored intersection, with contributions from artists, legal academics, philosophers, anthropologists and sociologists.Book Details
Understandings of freedom are often discussed in moral, theological, legal and political terms, but they are not often set in a historical perspective, and they are even more rarely considered within their specific language context. From Homeric poems to contemporary works, the author traces the words that express the various notions of freedom in Classical Greek, Latin, and medieval and modern European idioms. Examining writers as varied as Plato, Aristotle, Luther, La Boétie, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Stirner, Nietzsche, and Foucault among others, this theoretical mapping shows old and new boundaries of the horizon of freedom. The book suggests the possibility of transcending these boundaries on the basis of a different theorization of human interactions, which constructs individual and collective subjects as processes rather than entities. This construction shifts and disseminates the very locus of freedom, whose vocabulary would be better recast as a relational middle path between autonomous and heteronomous alternatives.Book Details
Through algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI), objects and digital services now demonstrate new skills they did not have before, right up to replacing human activity through pre-programming or by making their own decisions. As part of the internet of things, AI applications are already widely used today, for example in language processing, image recognition and the tracking and processing of data.
This policy brief illustrates the potential negative and positive impacts of AI and reviews related policy strategies adopted by the UK, US, EU, as well as Canada and China. Based on an ethical approach that considers the role of AI from a democratic perspective and considering the public interest, the authors make policy recommendations that help to strengthen the positive impact of AI and to mitigate its negative consequences.Book Details
Google and Facebook currently control close to two-thirds of global advertising revenue. While dominating the online advertising market, these two companies have thus far avoided paying adequate taxes.
This CAMRI policy brief presents a new policy innovation, the online advertising tax. Considering the key role of user activity and user data for the value of Google and Facebook’s services, it explains how digital advertising companies’ revenues could be taxed based on the respective country in which targeted users are located.
The author reviews existing policy arguments and policy options and sets out practical steps to ensure that tax avoidance by online advertising companies is mitigated. Furthermore, he illustrates how tax revenues could be used to support public service internet platforms.Book Details
Will be part of the Critical Digital and Social Media Studies series
Not since Marx identified the manufacturing plants of Manchester as the blueprint for the new capitalist society has there been a deeper transformation of the fundamentals of our social life. As capitalism faces a series of structural crises, a new social, political and economic dynamic is emerging: peer-to-peer. This book asks what is peer-to-peer (P2P)? Why is it so important to building a commons-centric future? And how could this happen? Using a political economy framework this book discusses various cases exemplifying P2P commons-orientated value models. This book aims to critically intervene through proposals for a commons transition strategy. In this way it illustrates how state, market and civil society can build more inclusive and sustainable institutions.
The Blitz Companion offers a unique overview of a century of aerial warfare, its impact on cities and the people who lived in them. It tells the story of aerial warfare from the earliest bombing raids and premonitions through to the NATO bombings during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, and subsequent bombings in the aftermath of 9/11. The book focuses on air raids precautions, evacuation and preparations for total war, and resilience, both of citizens and of cities. The legacies of air raids, from reconstruction to commemoration, are also discussed. Uniquely accessible, comparative and broad in scope this book draws key conclusions about civilian experience in the twentieth century.
Feminist theories and Science and Technology Studies (STS) may enrich a critique of finance capital as the author argues that a critical political economic approach to communication can help in understanding financial markets. Working with case histories of tulipmania, microcredit, Wall Street reporting and the role of ‘screens’, Bubbles and Machines argues that rather than calling financial crises human-made or inevitable they should be recognised as technological.