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  • Digital Alienation

    Robert Hassan

    Chapter from the book: Hassan, R. 2020. The Condition of Digitality: A Post-Modern Marxism for the Practice of Digital Life.


    This conclusion applies Jaeggi’s theory of alienation to a specifically digital context. It argues that alienation is rescued by her perspective from oblivion: the aim here to connect pre-digital Critical Theory with a theory of digitally-driven alienation that is the most significant issue of our age. Three main components combine to express the logic that shapes digital culture. These are: commodification, instrumentalisation, and time-space compression with the results including digital monopolies and ‘monotony culture’ that is backward looking and not creative. Algorithmic generation of backward- and inward-looking data is reproduced as the basis for countless commercial strategies. What such logic excludes and alienates are cultural forms and meanings derived from physical and analogue life which contain the human-scale and the ordinariness (in Raymond Williams’s sense) that can be the basis for cultures that evolve from or break from the past—instead of being digital shadows of it. Cultural production is not so much as caught up in the past, but is trapped within a constant present – a network time temporality that effaces any remaining spheres of the human scale in culture that has any connection to capitalism. The book ends with a call for a Post-Modern Marxism. In our thoroughly internalised postmodernity many of the things that we have left behind in the modern and analogue universe—democracy, production, consumption, labour, time, space, sociality, socialism, communism—no longer function as they once did: is it possible to fit them into this new technological context?

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    Hassan, R. 2020. Digital Alienation. In: Hassan, R, The Condition of Digitality. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book44.g

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    Published on Jan. 10, 2020