Surveillance Capitalism in America

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Josh Lauer, Kenneth Lipartito
University of Pennsylvania Press, Oct 15, 2021 - History - 288 pages

Surveillance Capitalism in America offers a crucial historical perspective on the intimate relationship between surveillance and capitalism. While surveillance is often associated with governments, today the role of the private sector in the spread of everyday surveillance is the subject of growing public debate. Tech giants like Google and Facebook are fueled by a continuous supply of user data and digital exhaust. Surveillance is not just a side effect of digital capitalism; it is the business model itself, suggesting the emergence of a new and more rapacious mode of capitalism: surveillance capitalism.

But how much has capitalism really changed? Surveillance Capitalism in America explores the historical development of commercial surveillance long before computers and suggests that surveillance has been central to American capitalism since the nation's founding. Managers surveilled labor, merchants surveilled consumers, and businesses surveilled each other. Focusing on events in the United States, the chapters in this volume examine the deep logic of modern surveillance as a mode of rationalization, bureaucratization, and social control from the early nineteenth century forward. Even more, business surveillance has often involved collaborations with the state, through favorable laws, policing, and information sharing. The history of surveillance capitalism is thus the history of technological, legal, and knowledge infrastructures built over decades.

Together, the chapters in this volume reveal the long arc of surveillance capitalism, from the violent coercion of slave labor to the seductions of target marketing.

 

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Contents

Surveillance Under Capitalism
1
Surveillance and Sousveillance in Jamaica and the British Atlantic World
27
MailOrder Magazines and the Gilded Age Trade in Consumer Data ...
46
Managing Reputation Through the Paperwork and Bureaucracy of Surveillance
65
Managing Emotional Labor to Improve the Corporate Image ...
84
Surveilling the Guest in American Hotels in the Interwar Period ...
97
Policing Sexualities in 1930s Manhattan Nightclubs
118
Businesss War on Drugs and the Expansion of Surveillance in the United States
138
Chapter 8 Why Did Uptown Go Down in Flames? Uptown Cigarettes and the Targeted Marketing Crisis
160
Cookies Notice and Choice and Web Privacy
183
Afterword
203
Notes
211
List of Contributors
257
Index
261
Acknowledgments
267
Copyright

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About the author (2021)

Josh Lauer is Associate Professor of Communication at University of New Hampshire. Kenneth Lipartito is Professor of History at Florida International University.

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