Political science professor Jodi Dean's new book explores how technoculture capitalizes on the public sphere.
October 4, 2002 GENEVA, N.Y.—Jodi Dean, associate professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, has just had her third book published from Cornell University Press. “Publicity's Secret: How Technoculture Capitalizes On Democracy” analyses the impact of new technologies on democracy and the public sphere.
In recent decades, media outlets in the United States–most notably the Internet–have claimed to serve the public's ever-greater thirst for information. Scandals are revealed, details are laid bare because “the public needs to know.” In “Publicity's Secret,” Jodi Dean claims that the public's demands for information both coincide with the interests of the media industry and reinforce the cynicism promoted by contemporary technoculture. Democracy has become a spectacle, and Dean asserts that theories of the “public sphere” endanger democratic politics in the information age.
Dean's argument is built around analyses of Bill Gates, Theodore Kaczynski, popular journalism, the Internet and technology, as well as the conspiracy theory subculture that has marked American history from the Declaration Independence to the political celebrity of Hillary Rodham Clinton. The author claims that the media's insistence on the public's right to know leads to the indiscriminate investigation and dissemination of secrets. Consequently, in her view, the theoretical ideal of the public sphere, in which all processes are transparent, reduces real-world politics to the drama of the secret and its discovery.
In the words of Kalle Lasn, editor in chief of Adbusters, “Jodi Dean takes us one step deeper into the mindscape of consumer capitalism.”
Dean is an associate professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is the author of “Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace” and the editor of “Cultural Studies and Political Theory,” both from Cornell University Press. This summer she presented a paper, “Secrecy Since September 11,” and a second written with Paul Passavant, assistant professor of political science, “Representation and the Event,” at the American Political Science Association meetings in Boston. She is also the author of “Solidarity of Strangers: Feminism After Identity Politics” (1996, University of California Press) and the editor of “Feminism and the New Democracy: Re-Siting the Political” (1997, Sage Publications).