“Healy closes his marvellous book by saying that ‘alienation is a constant feature and is experienced as a norm rather than as an aberration’.” - https://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviews/19718_marx-and-digital-machines-alienation-technology-capitalism-by-mike-healy-reviewed-by-thomas-klikauer/
This book explores the fundamental contradiction at the heart of the digital environment: technology offers all manner of promises, yet habitually fails to deliver. This failure often arises from numerous problems: the proficiency of the technology or end-user, policy failure at various levels, or a combination of these. Solutions such as better technology and more effective end-user education are often put into place to solve these failures.
Mike Healy argues that such approaches are inherently faulty drawing upon qualitative research informed by Marx’s theory of alienation. Using Marx’s theory, he considers participants in three distinct settings: the workplace of information and communications technology (ICT) professionals; university scholars researching the ethical and societal implications of our digital environment; and a group of pensioners living in South London, UK, undertaking ICT training. By delving beneath the surface of how digital technologies are created, researched and experienced, this study illustrates the contradictory nature of our digital lives, as they directly arise from the needs of capitalism.
The book also places Marx’s theory in contrast to the mainstream approaches derived from Seaman and Blauner. In researching and comprehending ICT, this book reaffirms the superior explanatory power of Marx’s theory of alienation.
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Ambitious and well written, Marx and Digital Machines sets itself the task of familiarizing the reader with both classical and contemporary Marxist theory while simultaneously applying it to the field of Information Communication Technology.
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Ever since German philosopher Hegel discussed alienation and Karl Marx converted it into the sensible framework of the economics of capitalism, alienation isn’t really a new subject – many might even think all has been said. Yet, Healy’s exquisite b…
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Healy, M. 2020. Marx and Digital Machines: Alienation, Technology, Capitalism. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book47
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Published on Oct. 16, 2020