What is ‘social capital’? The enormous positivity surrounding it conceals the instrumental economic rationality underpinning the notion as corporations silently sell consumer data for profit. Status chasing is just one aspect of a process of transforming qualitative aspects of social interactions into quantifiable metrics for easier processing, prediction, and behavioural shaping.
A work of critical media studies, Social Capital Online examines the idea within the new ‘network spectacle’ of digital capitalism via the ideas of Marx, Veblen, Debord, Baudrillard and Deleuze. Explaining how such phenomena as online narcissism and aggression arise, Faucher offers a new theoretical understanding of how the spectacularisation of online activity perfectly aligns with the value system of neoliberalism and its data worship. Even so, at the centre of all, lie familiar ideas – alienation and accumulation – new conceptions of which he argues are vital for understanding today’s digital society.Book Details
This book highlights that the capacity for gathering, analysing, and utilising vast amounts of digital (user) data raises significant ethical issues. Annika Richterich provides a systematic contemporary overview of the field of critical data studies that reflects on practices of digital data collection and analysis. The book assesses in detail one big data research area: biomedical studies, focused on epidemiological surveillance. Specific case studies explore how big data have been used in academic work.
The Big Data Agenda concludes that the use of big data in research urgently needs to be considered from the vantage point of ethics and social justice. Drawing upon discourse ethics and critical data studies, Richterich argues that entanglements between big data research and technology/ internet corporations have emerged. In consequence, more opportunities for discussing and negotiating emerging research practices and their implications for societal values are needed.
An electronic version of this book is freely available, thanks to the support of libraries working with Knowledge Unlatched. KU is a collaborative initiative designed to make high quality books Open Access for the public good. More information about the initiative and details about KU's Open Access programme can be found at www.knowledgeunlatched.org.Book Details
Spectacle 2.0 recasts Debord's theory of spectacle within the frame of 21st century digital capitalism. It offers a reassessment of Debord’s original notion of Spectacle from the late 1960s, of its posterior revisitation in the 1990s, and it presents a reinterpretation of the concept within the scenario of contemporary informational capitalism and more specifically of digital and media labour. It is argued that the Spectacle 2.0 form operates as the interactive network that links through one singular (but contradictory) language and various imaginaries, uniting diverse productive contexts such as logistics, finance, new media and urbanism. Spectacle 2.0 thus colonizes most spheres of social life by processes of commodification, exploitation and reification. Diverse contributors consider the topic within the book’s two main sections: Part I conceptualizes and historicizes the Spectacle in the context of informational capitalism; contributions in Part II offer empirical cases that historicise the Spectacle in relation to the present (and recent past) showing how a Spectacle 2.0 approach can illuminate and deconstruct specific aspects of contemporary social reality. All contributions included in this book rework the category of the Spectacle to present a stimulating compendium of theoretical critical literature in the fields of media and labour studies. In the era of the gig-economy, highly mediated content and President Trump, Debord’s concept is arguably more relevant than ever.Book Details
The United States presents the greatest source of global geo-political violence and instability. Guided by the radical political economy tradition, this book offers an analysis of the USA’s historical impulse to weaponize communication technologies.
Scott Timcke explores the foundations of this impulse and how the militarization of digital society creates structural injustices and social inequalities. He analyses how new digital communication technologies support American paramountcy and conditions for worldwide capital accumulation. Identifying selected features of contemporary American society, Capital, State, Empire undertakes a materialist critique of this digital society and of the New American Way of War. At the same time it demonstrates how the American security state represses activists—such as Black Lives Matter—who resist this emerging security leviathan. The book also critiques the digital positivism behind the algorithmic regulation used to control labour and further diminish prospects for human flourishing for the ‘99%’.
Capital, State, Empire contributes to a broader understanding of the dynamics of global capitalism and political power in the early 21st century.Book Details
The objective of this book is to outline how a radically democratic politics can be reinvigorated in theory and practice through the use of the internet. The author argues that politics in its proper sense can be distinguished from anti-politics by analyzing the configuration of public space, subjectivity, participation, and conflict. Each of these terrains can be configured in a more or less political manner, though the contemporary status quo heavily skews them towards anti-political configuration.
Using this understanding of what exactly politics entails, this book considers how the internet can both help and hinder efforts to move each area in a more political direction. By explicitly interpreting contemporary theories of the political in terms of the internet, this analysis avoids the twin traps of both technological determinism and technological cynicism.
Raising awareness of what the word ‘politics’ means, the author develops theoretical work by Arendt, Rancière, Žižek and Mouffe to present a clear and coherent view of how in theory, politics can be digitized and alternatively how the internet can be deployed in the service of trulydemocratic politics.Book Details
Knowledge in the Age of Digital Capitalism proposes a new critical theory concerning the functioning of capitalism and how we consider knowledge and information. This ambitious book systematically and lucidly introduces contemporary phenomena into the framework of cognitive materialism to address some of the great themes of the social sciences: knowledge, exploitation and social class in an account of capitalismâs totality in the present day. Author Mariano Zukerfeld reinvigorates materialist study of communications, presenting a typology of knowledge to explain the underlying material forms of information, intellectual property and cognitive work in contemporary societies. Using current examples the book also examines concerns such as free labour and the pivotal role of intellectual property. The book offers nothing less than an introduction to the theory of cognitive materialism and an account of the entirety of the digital (or knowledge) capitalism of our time.Book Details
This book contributes to the foundations of a critical theory of communication as shaped by the forces of digital capitalism. One of the world's leading theorists of digital media Professor Christian Fuchs explores how the thought of some of the Frankfurt School’s key thinkers can be deployed for critically understanding media in the age of the Internet. Five essays that form the heart of this book review aspects of the works of Georg Lukács, Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Axel Honneth and Jürgen Habermas and apply them as elements of a critical theory of communication's foundations. The approach taken starts from Georg Lukács Ontology of Social Being, draws on the work of the Frankfurt School thinkers, and sets them into dialogue with the Cultural Materialism of Raymond Williams.
Critical Theory of Communication offers a vital set of new insights on how communication operates in the age of information, digital media and social media, arguing that we need to transcend the communication theory of Habermas by establishing a dialectical and cultural-materialist critical theory of communication.
It is the first title in a major new book series 'Critical Digital and Social Media Studies' published by the University of Westminster Press.