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Information, Communication & Society
  Publisher:  Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
  Issue:  Volume 6, Number 3 / September 2003
  Pages:  430 - 450
  URL:  Linking Options

Computerized Capitalism: The Media Theory of Jean-François Lyotard

Nicholas Gane A1

A1 University of York

Abstract:

There 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.

Keywords:

capitalism, culture, inhuman, Lyotard, new media, technology

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