Advertisement

Network, Utopia and Fetishism

Chapter
  • 160 Downloads
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 27)

Abstract

Filipa Subtil and Pedro Xavier Mendonça analyses the technicizing impact of networks on the idea of communication and the influence of the network ideal on the current direction of technology in the service of power and economic advantage. Communication networks, in the Saint-Simonian ideal of the technical network, reduce the distances between classes and peoples, in that they involve people and society. The operation of democracy, itself inherent in and driven by networks, allows this process to take place, as a symbol and vehicle for democracy and equality. Subtil and Mendonça draw on the development of the media to illustrate how the information revolution made possible by networks has become the axis of a new capitalism, and stress the significance of three factors: the consolidation of nations with the introduction of the telegraph; the standardization and industrialization of news procedures; and the institutionalization of the press as an engine of power and economic intervention.

With the computer and micro-computing, social life has expanded and knowledge have become disseminated, and the Saint-Simonian ideal of world networks has acquired concrete form in the new era of information. Subtil and Mendonça see this trend in Michel Chevalier. While pointing out that there is no straight line from the Saint-Simonian tradition of technical networks to the current shape of technology as an instrument for seeking power and profit, they demonstrate how the libertarian and liberal ideal present in Saint-Simonianism in the person of Chevalier enables (and advocates) information capitalism.

The irreducible nature of the relationship between technical and political networks is explained by the allusion to a technological utopianism of the Promethean type and by consumption. The utopian disposition is the representational aspect of network dynamics, reflecting the projection of an ideal and the search for its realization. In combining the imaginary and realization, involving individual persons in the attraction of their promises, the network lends itself to idolatry as a symbol of social change and acquires ideological content. The cult of networks and the technological sublime reflect the idea that technology is sufficient unto itself as a political goal.

Keywords

Rationalizable Attraction Political Consummation Commodity Fetishism Ideological Content Universal Association 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Adas, M. 2006. Dominance by design: Technological imperatives and America’s civilizing mission. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Breton, P. 1987. Une histoire de l’informatique. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 1997 [1992]. L’utopie de la communication: Le mythe du “village plánétaire”. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  4. Breton, P., and S. Proulx. 1997 [1989]. A explosão da comunicação. Lisboa: Bizâncio.Google Scholar
  5. Carey, J. W. 1992 [1983]. Technology and ideology: The case of the telegraph. In Communication as culture: Essays on media and society, 201–230. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Carey, J.W. 1997. Afterword: The culture in question. In James Carey: A critical reader, ed. E.S. Munson, and C.A. Warren, 308–339. London/Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  7. Carey, J. W., and J. Quirk. 1992 [1970]. The mythos of the electronic revolution. In Communication as culture: Essays on media and society, 113–141. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Chandler, Jr., A., and J. W. Cortada (ed.) 2000. A nation transformed by information: How information has shaped the United States from colonial times to the present, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Chevalier, M. 1836. Lettres sur l’Ámerique du Nord. Vol I. Paris: Librairie Charles Gosselin.Google Scholar
  10. Craig, R. T. 2007 [1999]. Communication theory as a field. In Theorizing communication: Readings across traditions, ed. R. T. Craig, and H. L. Muller, 63–98. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  11. Eksterowicz, A. J., R. Roberts, and A. Clark, 2003 [1998]. Public journalism and public knowledge. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 3(2)(Spring): 74–95.Google Scholar
  12. Ellul, J. 1973. Les nouveaux possédés. Paris: Arthème Fayard.Google Scholar
  13. Emery, M., E. Emery, and N. L. Roberts. 2001 [1984]. The press and America: An interpretative history. Cambridge: Pearson.Google Scholar
  14. Flichy, P. 2003. L’Innovation technique: Récents développements en sciences sociales, vers une nouvelle théorie de l’innovation. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 2007. The Internet imaginaire. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Frade, P. M. 1991. Comunicação. In Dicionário do pensamento contemporâneo, dir. M. M. Carrilho, 45–55. Lisboa: Publicações D. Quixote.Google Scholar
  17. Fumagalli, A. 2007. Bioeconomia e capitalismo cognitivo: Verso un nuovo paradigma di accumulazione. Roma: Carocci Editore.Google Scholar
  18. Galbraith, J.K. 1973. O novo estado industrial. Lisboa: Publicações Dom Quixote.Google Scholar
  19. Garcia, J.L. 2012. El discurso de la innovación en tela de juicio: Tecnología, mercado y bienestar humano. Arbor: Ciencia, Pensamiento y Cultura 188(753): 19–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. ———. 2014. Une critique de l’économie des communications à l’aune des médias numériques. In La contribution en ligne: Pratiques participatives à l’ère du capitalisme informationnel, ed. S.J. Proulx, J.L. Garcia, and L. Heaton, 49–63. Quebec: Presses de l’Université du Québec.Google Scholar
  21. Gell, A. 1999. The art of anthropology: Essays and diagrams. London: The Athlone Press.Google Scholar
  22. Gellner, E. 2006 [1983]. Nations and nationalism. Malden/Oxford/Carlton: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  23. Hardt, H. 2001. Social theories of the press: Constituents of communication research from 1840s to 1920s. New York/Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  24. Huxley, A. 1998 [1932]. Brave new world. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.Google Scholar
  25. ———. 2000 [1958]. Brave new world revisited. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Jonas, H. 1985 [1981]. The imperative of responsibility: In search of an ethics for the technological age. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  27. Latour, B. 2005. Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lévy, P. 1996 [1989]. A invenção do computador. In História das ciências, ed. Michel Serres, 157–183, Lisboa: Terramar.Google Scholar
  29. ———. 2000. World philosophie: Le marché, le cyberspace, la conscience. Paris: Éditions Odile Jacob.Google Scholar
  30. Martins, H. 2005. The metaphysic of information: The power and the glory of machinehood. Res-Publica: Revista Lusófona de Ciência Política e Relações Internacionais 1(1/2): 165–192.Google Scholar
  31. Marx, K. 1909. Capital: A critical analysis of capitalism production. London: William Glaisher.Google Scholar
  32. Marx, L. 2000. The machine in the garden: Technology and the pastoral ideal in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Mattelart, A. 2000 [1999]. História da utopia planetária: Da cidade profética à sociedade global. Lisboa: Bizâncio.Google Scholar
  34. McLuhan, M. 1997 [1964]. Understanding media: The extensions of man. Cambridge, MA, London: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  35. Mosco, V. 2004. The digital sublime. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  36. Musso, P. 1997. Télécommunications et philosophie des réseaux: La posterité paradoxale de Saint-Simon. Paris: PUF.Google Scholar
  37. ———. 1999. Saint-Simon et le Saint-Simonisme. Paris: PUF.Google Scholar
  38. ———. 2003. Critique des réseaux. Paris: PUF.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Noble, D. 1977. America by design: Science, technology, and the rise of corporate capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Nye, D.E. 1994. American technological sublime. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  41. Orwell, G. 1961 [1949]. 1984. New York/London/Auckland: Signet Classic.Google Scholar
  42. Park, R.E. 1923. The natural history of the newspaper. American Journal of Sociology, 29(3): 273–289.Google Scholar
  43. Ritzer, G. 2000. El encanto de um mundo desencantado: Revolucione en los médios de consumo. Barcelona: Ed. Ariel.Google Scholar
  44. Schiller, D. 2000 [1999]. Digital capitalism: Networking the global market system. Boston: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  45. ———. 2014. Digital depression: Information technology and economic crisis. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  46. Schutz, A. 1970. On phenomenology and social relations, ed. Helmut R. Wagner. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  47. Stivers, R. 2001. A tecnologia como magia: O triunfo do irracional. Lisboa: Instituto Piaget.Google Scholar
  48. Subtil, F. 2014. Du télégraphe à l’Internet: Les enjeux politiques liés aux technologies de l’information. In La contribution en ligne : Pratiques participatives à l‘ère du capitalisme informationnel, ed. S. Proulx, J.L. Garcia, and L. Heaton, 115–125. Québec: Presses de l’Université du Québec.Google Scholar
  49. Subtil, F., and J.L. Garcia. 2010. Communication: An inheritance of the Chicago school of social thought. In The legacy of Chicago School of Sociology, ed. C. Hardt, 216–243. Manchester: Midrash Publishing.Google Scholar
  50. Veblen, T. 2001 [1921]. The engineers and the price system. Kitchener: Batoche Books.Google Scholar
  51. Weber, M. 1976 [1910]. Toward a sociology of press. Journal of Communication, 26(3): 96–101.Google Scholar
  52. Winner, L. 1989. The whale and the reactor: A search for limits in an age of high technology. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  53. ———. 2006. Ascensão e queda de uma cidade tecnológica. Análise Social XLI(181): 1095–1103.Google Scholar
  54. Zamyatin, Y. 1983 [1924]. We. New York: Harper Voyager.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Communication and Media StudiesLisbon Polytechnic InstituteLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.School of Business Communication-EFAPLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations