I have a chapter out in an open access book, The Digital Age and Its Discontents: Critical Reflections in Education.
I’ve written about Platform Discontent against the University. The abstract is below and the full chapter is available here.
The chapter addresses: Technology and the Capitalist University; Technology and Academic Labour; Discontent and the Re-imagination of the Institution; Platform Discontent as a Social Movement; and, Beyond the University.
Inside the University, technology shapes productive moments of capitalist expansion. As such, it is deployed in order to eviscerate academic labour costs and labour time, while promising to liberate the academic worker through free time. Thus, digital technology both re-engineers education in the name of entrepreneurialism and competition, and forces academics and students to struggle to enrich their human capital. In terms of responses to this re-engineering, this has led to discussions about accelerationism or the possibility of fully automated luxury communism. One outcome is a consideration of ways in which technology can liberate the direct producers of knowledge to cooperate through associations that widen their autonomy. However, while this work challenges the hegemonic idea of transhistorical, educational institutions with a particular focus on knowledge production and its uses, it runs into their integration inside the universe of value. Value forces institutions and managers to performance-manage academic labour, in ways that can be analysed through the idea of platforms as a mechanism that expands capital’s cybernetic control. This chapter critiques ideologies and practices of technology-rich institutions, in order to discuss whether the educational technology and workload management platforms that are used to control academic production might act as sites of discontent and alternatives that enable communities to reconstitute their own lived experiences. Is it possible to develop forms of platform discontent, which lie beyond simple discontent against platforms and instead enable communities to widen their own spheres of autonomy?