Tag: Structural Redundancy and Abjection

The title of this post comes from A Quiet Place, a civilisational collapse horror thriller currently winning critical acclaim for its deployment of silence to produce a film which is genuinely terrifying in a way few others are. It tells the story of a family struggling to survive, amidst the social collapse which has ensued […]

In the last month, I’ve seen two scenes of automated retail which I wish I could have taken a photograph of. In the first scene, people were queuing up for the automated checkouts at Marks & Spencer in Euston station while multiple cashiers were left redundant at their station. It’s a shop I use a lot and I […]

An interesting thread I’m following up from Four Futures: Life After Capitalism. This is Samuel Bowles and Arjun Jayadev on ‘guard labour‘: Another dubious first for America: We now employ as many private security guards as high school teachers — over one million of them, or nearly double their number in 1980. And that’s just […]

From Strangers In Their Own Land, by Arlie Hochschild, loc 2587-2603: Not claiming to be a victim, accommodating the downside of loose regulations out of a loyalty to free enterprise—this was a tacit form of heroism, hidden to incurious liberals. Sometimes you had to endure bad news, Janice felt, for a higher good, such as […]

From Strangers In Their Own Land, by Arlie Hochschild, loc 2422: “Crazy redneck.” “White trash.” “Ignorant Southern Bible-thumper.” You realize that’s you they’re talking about. You hear these terms on the radio, on television, read them on blogs. The gall. You’re offended. You’re angry. And you really hate the endless parade of complainers encouraged by […]

An absolutely fascinating article from Arlie Hochschild, whose new book on the American right sounds like a must read: Traditional Tea Party supporters wanted to cut both the practice of cutting in line, and government rewards for doing so. Followers of Donald Trump, on the other hand, wanted to keep government benefits and remove shame […]

Bleak but plausible predictions from Nick Srniceck and Alex Williams in their Inventing the Future. From loc 2020-2035: 1. The precarity of the developed economies’ working class will intensify due to the surplus global labour supply (resulting from both globalisation and automation).  2. Jobless recoveries will continue to deepen and lengthen, predominantly affecting those whose […]

There’s an interesting extract in this Guardian article about the growing civil war in the Republican party, concerning the adoption of Trump’s tactics by aspirant politicians within the party: Trump’s refusal to support McCain and Ryan comes exactly one week before Ryan faces a primary challenge from the businessman Paul Nehlen, a candidate who has […]

In the last few months I’ve become very interested in the status accorded to coding as a labour market strategy. It’s held up as both individually rational and a viable strategy for governments seeking to grow the human capital of their citizens. However, as Douglas Rushkoff observes in his Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, […]

An important reminder by Douglas Rushkoff in Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus. From loc 198-212: For many of us, the current system, however convoluted, is better than nothing, and changing to one in which we must create real value is frightening. Most people are not cultural creatives capable of launching a business on Etsy, […]

In Ross Perlin’s Intern Nation, he writes of how interns voluntarily subjugate themselves in order to ‘be noticed’, even if they have little expectation that their internship will lead to a permanent job. From loc 1997: There is rarely much reason to believe that internships in the public sector or at nonprofits will convert directly […]

This is an idea put forward by James Bryce, a British observer of the United States, in 1889: This tendency to acquiescence and submission, this sense of the insignificance of individual effort, this belief that the affairs of men are swayed by large forces whose movement may be studied but cannot be turned, I have ventured […]

There’s an interesting observation made by David Schultz in his American Politics In An Age of Ignorance concerning the stock character of ‘the welfare queen’ which I think applies to other such abject characters. From loc 975: This image of the welfare queen as a shrewd, calculating, yet lazy individual seemed odd. She was smart enough […]

I’ve become ever more critical of Zygmunt Bauman in recent years. However I continue to see some value in his work and this passage, from his Wasted Lives pg 11-12, illustrates what I shall always like about his writing:  How different is the idea of ‘redundancy’ that has shot into prominence during the lifetime of […]

I gave a lecture earlier this week about the cultural politics of automation and how this might shape the emergence of mass automation as a primarily structural reality.  I wish I’d seen this Pew poll when I was preparing the lecture: This sense of the inexorability of mass automation is deeply worrying. It’s possible that people might begin to see […]

The rise of the robots is a recurrent theme of popular culture. Robots are often seen as a threat, heralding the prospect of human beings being replaced by their creations, perhaps to the extent of being deemed useless by them and attacked. Underlying this fear is the reality of automation: technology being more adept at particular tasks […]

Dear list members, Kevin Smets (postdoc, University of Antwerp, Belgium) and Koen Leurs (assistant professor Gender & Postcolonial Studies, Utrecht University, the Netherlands) are sending out this email to see whether there are people on the list interested in submitting a panel / roundtable proposal on ‘Forced migration & digital connectivity in Europe’ for the […]

Useful account of the role of ‘lead generators’ in generating ‘distinct digital-advertising landscapes’ with significant socio-economic ramifications. The filter bubble isn’t just a matter of cultural constraint: As the big piles of data online continue to grow, these issues will become more pronounced. Information filters that control what version of the Internet a person sees […]