Queering alienation in digital media
Marx’s concept of alienation, particularly as articulated in Dallas Smythe’s audience-commodity thesis, is central to critical studies of the political economy of digital media and its exploitation of user labour. However, in its application within critical studies of Internet economies, the concept often becomes limited to alienation from ‘species-being’ or autonomous self-actualisation. Drawing on mostly queer, but also some feminist, critiques this paper seeks to challenge this application of the alienation concept. It uses examples of the mediation of gay and queer sexualities through online hook-up apps to illustrate its position, concluding with some suggestions for how queering the subject of the alienation thesis may shape further analysis.
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