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  • The Californian Ideology Revisited

    Hasmet M. Uluorta, Lawrence Quill

    Chapter from the book: Armano, E et al. 2022. Digital Platforms and Algorithmic Subjectivities.


    Twenty-five years after its publication, this chapter revisits and extends Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron’s seminal article The Californian Ideology. In 1996, Barbrook and Cameron identified a moment of profound global change that they argued originated on the West Coast of the United States. Documenting its emergence from the 1970s, they understood it to be based upon a belief system that managed to combine contradictory, yet highly appealing elements rooted in a commitment to technological determinism. Barbrook and Cameron theorized the emerging ‘electronic agora’ to describe a near-future society where personal communication between individuals was possible without the mediation of government. In the late 2000s this transformed into largely unregulated social media platforms. Relatedly Barbrook and Cameron documented the emergence of ‘the electronic marketplace,’ a vision reliant on the creative talents of an emerging ‘virtual class’. This has morphed more recently into platform capitalism and a surveillance economy. More broadly Barbrook and Cameron noted that beneath the tensions of the original Californian Ideology was an anti-establishment ethos that relied upon the liberating power of technology. The recent tech-lash, concerns over the gig-economy, and the dubious imperatives of datamining, require us to reconsider the prospects for open societies that rely upon platforms as we enter the next phase of the Californian Ideology.

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    Uluorta H. & Quill L. 2022. The Californian Ideology Revisited. In: Armano, E et al (eds.), Digital Platforms and Algorithmic Subjectivities. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book54.b

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    Published on Nov. 1, 2022