Computerized Capitalism: The Media Theory of Jean-François Lyotard
Nicholas Gane A1
A1 University of York
is currently a tendency in cultural studies literature to analyse new
media technologies in isolation from the underlying dynamics of
capitalist culture. In response, this paper draws on the work of
Jean-François Lyotard to reassert a series of basic connections between
technological development and the further extension of capitalist
principles into cultural production and exchange. This analysis will
treat Lyotard as a key, but neglected, figure in media theory. The
following arguments will be developed from three of his key texts: that
the computerization of society is accompanied by a new stage in the
commodification of knowledge (The Postmodern Condition); that we
are witnessing the speed-up and extension of capitalist culture through
the reduction of knowledge to information and information to bits (The Inhuman);
and that new media technologies promote the streaming of culture (even
oppositional culture) into homogeneous forms of capital that can be
exchanged, received and consumed almost ahead of time (Postmodern Fables).
Lyotard's strategies of resistance to these three processes, and to the
invasion of capitalist logics into culture more generally, are placed
into question in the final section of this paper.
capitalism, culture, inhuman, Lyotard, new media, technology
The references of this article are secured to subscribers.