Surveillance Capitalism - The Newest Daughter of the Market System


Are you worried about surveillance capitalism? Shoshana Zuboff certainly is.


Zuboff is an academic and researcher from Harvard. In this video she outlines how a new problem has entered into the market system with data-collecting technology.

She is careful to point out that surveillance capitalism is not technology.


In a similar way, Marshall McLuhan was not a technological determinist in his day. He simply pointed at the danger of allowing something like advertising to take over the myth-making, folklore and general communication of values in a society. Now Zuboff is pointing out the dangers of allowing something like surveillance media and automated data collecting to take over the communicating and directing of values in a society.


It's all the more interesting that her outline describes 4 general categories of how things become markets.


1. Human activity took place before it was brought into a market system under terms like labour and employment.

2. Natural resources existed before they were given categories such as property, material and real estate.

3. Trade and barter was used to manage things of value before the exchange market was organized.

4. Now, private human experience, in the form of behavioural data, has been brought into the market system.


Perhaps the pursuit of the monetization of things, like the pursuit of technology, is not a problem in itself. It's the type relationship that monetization creates. Monetization, like monopolization, like monotheism, can all have their places, but can also all lead to dangerous or destructive relationships.


Four symbolic types of relationship can be used as a spectrum to illustrate the kinds of relationship between people and markets, people and economic systems, people and other people.


War - Bondage - Contract - Marriage


What kind of relationship would you like, or consider ideal? And who do you want to profit from your private human experiences?