Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mark Andrejevic – "The Kinder, Gentler Gaze of Big Brother: Reality TV in the Era of Digital Capitalism" – summary


Mark Andrejevic –   – "The Kinder, Gentler Gaze of Big Brother: Reality TV in the Era of Digital Capitalism" – summary – part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4



In "The Kinder, Gentler Gaze of Big Brother: Reality TV in the Era of Digital Capitalism" media researcher Mark Andrejevic offers a link, even a homology, between reality TV shows such as Big Brother, The Real world and Road Rules that are based on constant surveillance and the development of e-commerce and the internet economy which is based on consumer data. Andrejevic's main argument is that reality TV helps define a specific type of subjectivity which is in line with the needs of internet and surveillance based economy. For Andrejevic, this form of subjectivity is one which equates openness to surveillance with self expression. This submission to surveillance, valorized by reality TV shows like the Big Brother, is crucial for the needs of customization that characterize the on-line economy. "The Kinder, Gentler Gaze of Big Brother: Reality TV in the Era of Digital Capitalism" was written before the time of Facebook, which makes Mark Andrejevic a kind of prophet of the age in which everyone, perhaps inspired by reality TV, is more than happy to share his personal information with anyone who is interested, including everyone who is interested in selling him exactly what he needs.

Mark Andrejevic views the current information revolution as an extension of Fordism and Taylorism: a rationalization of production and manufacturing by means of heavily relying on gathered information. The rise of Post-Fordism of flexible capitalism ("flexibilism") has brought about the development of new methods of information harvesting, analysis and utilization. Andrejevic relies on the work of David Harvey who argued that one on the ways flexible capitalism works is by relying on extensive information about manufacturing and consumption. Access to information and control over it have become a vital corporate necessity.

The logic late flexible capitalism epitomizes, so Andrejevic argues, with the current paradigm of "mass customization" – the configuration of products to meet individual consumer needs by using digital information systems. This system relies dramatically on consumers' willingness to submit to surveillance, and this willingness, Andrejevic argues, is at least to some extent inspired by reality TV shows like the Big Brother.


Mark Andrejevic –   – "The Kinder, Gentler Gaze of Big Brother: Reality TV in the Era of Digital Capitalism" – summary – part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

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