Sabine Pfeiffer, Digital Capitalism and Distributive Forces

By Levi Checketts

Digital Capitalism and Distributive Forces Sabine Pfeiffer (2022) 282pp., €56 paperback, Transcript Independent Academic Publishing, Bielefeld, ISBN 9783837658934

‘If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences’, wrote William Isaac Thomas and Dorothy Swaine Thomas in 1928 (pp.571–2). Though the immediate context of their work was a discussion of perceptions (including misperceptions and hallucinations), the insight of this theorem easily lends itself to social constructivism. While the claim of social constructivism has been used on occasion to mean contrived and invented, made up and false, Bruno Latour refers to constructivism’s concreteness as a witness to the solidity of an institution or practice (Latour, 2005, p.90). Sabine Pfeiffer refers to neither of these texts in her Digital Capitalism and Distributive Forces, though the importance of social trust for the continued success of capitalism lingers in the background of the text. Since digital capitalism is not primarily rooted in the too-concrete industrial sector, cordoned off as it seems to be into open-concept workspaces and light-weight netbooks in downtown high rises, the flow of capital remains, to the outside observer, as invisible as the radio waves transferring information from Wi-Fi routers to computers. In this new development, capitalism is more abstract, seemingly less real, and so the questions of what is generating capital and how stable this is are of paramount concern in Pfeiffer’s work.

page: 130 – 136
Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation
Volume 39, Issue 2
SKU: 390207

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