What is at Stake in the Critique of Big Data? Reflections on Christian Fuchs’s Chapter
Chapter from the book: Chandler D. & Fuchs C. 2019. Digital Objects, Digital Subjects: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Capitalism, Labour and Politics in the Age of Big Data.
This contribution reflects on Christian Fuchs’s chapter 'Karl Marx in the Era of Big Data Capitalism'. It argues that what is at stake in the critique of Big Data capitalism as a mode of governmental regulation may be obscured through extending the critical Marxist approach which understands the digitalisation of life in terms of the instrumental logic of an all-encompassing, life-alienating, commodifying, surveilling and controlling power operating at a system-level, from above. I suggest here that Big Data approaches to governmental knowledge can be politically distinguished from previous forms of rationalisation or digitalisation in that they increasingly tend to stress an immanent or postmodern ontology of differentiation rather than a transcendental one of universalisation. Thus they can be seen to share (and be parasitical upon) critical approaches to the modernist episteme.