In September, Professor of Political Science Jodi Dean, who holds the Donald R. Harter ’39 Professorship of the Humanities and Social Sciences, delivered the keynote address at the annual meeting of the European Sociological Association’s Research Network on Media and Communication, held at the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, in Lisbon, Portugal.
The theme of the conference, “Rethinking Power in Communicative Capitalism: Critical Perspectives on Media, Culture and Society,” centered on Dean’s concept of “communicative capitalism.” The concept designates the merger of capitalism and democracy in networked communications.
“This has been at the core of my work for the last 15 years,” she explains. “It was exciting to see multiple panels and papers devoted to working with and extending the concept.”
Her keynote talk, “Communicative Capitalism: number and division,” summarized the critical intent that motivated the initial development of the concept of communicative capitalism. It noted how enthusiasm for the Internet in the 1990s celebrated the democratic potential of online communication. Two decades later, though, it is clear that digital media is for capitalism. Dean’s address then moved beyond critique to consider openings for more radical politics associated with the power of number and the intensity of division.
Conference panels explored the theory and ideology of communicative capitalism; its effect on the environment and labor; its relationship to gender and sexuality; and a variety of other topics.
Dean is the author or editor of 12 books including “Blog Theory,” “Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies,” “The Communist Horizon,” and most recently “Crowds and Party,” which continues her work on the concept of communicative capitalism. In this recent work, she demonstrates the inevitable inequality that networked communications generate. She argues that the revolts of the past decade are examples of the new face of the class struggle under the conditions of communicative capitalism.
The photo above features Professor of Political Science Jodi Dean teaching a class at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.