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date: 03 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the capitalist relations that are formed when we consume our own social lives via the production of digital data. The central argument is that participation in a digitized social domain is exploitative, since it entails new forms of commodified self-consumption. We argue that datafication or social quantification represents an expansionary phase of capitalism that we call data colonialism. Through it, we enter into specific social relations that normalize dispossession, and that subsume the once sharp separation between a bounded production process and an open-ended space of consumption into a larger process of continuous production/consumption. Data colonialism is thus a form of extraction and appropriation that seeks to colonize new domains of existence for capitalism, transforming quantified social life into a new type of resource that can be mined and processed by corporations.

Keywords: data, capitalism, data colonialism, social quantification, self-consumption

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