Historical Social Research

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Sebastian Sevignani: Surveillance, Classification, and Social Inequality in Informational Capitalism: The Relevance of Exploitation in the Context of Markets in Information. [Abstract]

This contribution deals with classification processes as an element of surveillance in the context of the growing relevance of (online) markets in information and the blurring line between production and consumption in current informational capitalist societies. Using the example of social media, I argue that classification does not only appear as feature of the demand and supply side of information markets but is also an aspect of informational production. In doing so, the paper discusses insights from critical surveillance and advertising studies and relates it to important strands of class theory in order to learn about the social mechanism that establishes inequality between Internet service owners and users. The paper argues that a (revised) notion of exploitation and antagonistic social relations should not be omitted from theorizing the information economy. Exploitation establishes an antagonism between all Internet users and the owners of the means of communication, surveillance, and classification.

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