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  • Communication Technologies and the History of the Spectacle

    Jeremiah Morelock, Felipe Ziotti Narita

    Chapter from the book: Morelock J. & Narita F. 2021. The Society of the Selfie: Social Media and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy.


    The chapter presents a historical account and a first theoretical approach on the rise of the society of the selfie. Our historical exposition concerns the global spread of the material and cultural developments of capitalist society, including the recent rise of the digital and Web 2.0. In Wallerstein’s concept of ‘geoculture’, the world-system is not just economic; the culture of modern capitalism is extended into regions when and where the global market extends. Using this framework, in chapter 1 we focus on the place of communication technologies in the global economic and cultural changes from the Industrial Revolution to the present. Describing these changes, we explore Guy Debord’s theory of ‘the spectacle.’ In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the rise of information technologies and the World Wide Web dovetailed with neoliberalism and spectacular capitalism, amplifying a cultural trend already well under way: the movement away from substance and depth, toward images, surfaces, and superficial appearances. We argue that in the age of social media, much interpersonal communication is mediated and fragmented through social media via likes, comments, tweets, and so on. Users construct alternate, ‘spectacular’ versions of themselves that circulate online. The ‘selfie’ is a perfect symbol for this new state of culture.

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    Morelock J. & Narita F. 2021. Communication Technologies and the History of the Spectacle. In: Morelock J. & Narita F, The Society of the Selfie. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book59.b

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    Published on Dec. 14, 2021