Revolutionary Horizons? Debating the Democratic Potential of the Internet
April 12, 2013
The effect of the Internet and social media tools upon recent global uprisings has received much attention. Popular claims that such digital environments are revolutionary tools for social change have been countered by charges of ‘slacktivism’ and critiques that draw attention to the entanglement between the Internet and neoliberal capital. Critical theorists Jodi Dean and Andrew Feenberg have developing highly compelling but distinct perspectives on this question of the relationships between networked technology, political life, and social movements. The event brought these two esteemed scholars together to debate how we can best understand the role of the internet in shaping the possibilities and limitations of collective action today.
The debate took place Friday, April 12th, 2013 at SFU’s Harbour Centre Campus (room #1900) and saw an attendance of nearly 300. It was moderated by Professor Stuart Poyntz (SFU Communication) and was organized as a part of the CounterCulture Speaker Series run by the Media Democracy Project, SFU’s Institute for the Humanities, and the SFU School of Communication.
Jodi Dean is Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges where she teaches political theory, and Erasmus Professor of the Humanities in the Faculty of Philosophy at Erasmus University. Dr. Dean’s research and writing focus on the contemporary space and possibility of politics. Books include: Solidarity of Strangers (1996), Aliens in America (1998), Publicity’s Secret (2002), Zizek’s Politics (2006), Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies (2009), Blog Theory: Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive (2010) and most recently The Communist Horizon (2012). Dr. Dean has also edited several books including Reformatting Politics: Information Technology and Global Civil Society (2006).
Andrew Feenberg is Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Technology in the School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, where he directs the Applied Communication and Technology Lab. Dr. Feenberg is the author of several books including Critical Theory of Technology (1991), Alternative Modernity (1995), and Questioning Technology (1999). Heidegger and Marcuse: The Catastrophe and Redemption of History appeared in 2005 while Between Reason and Experience: Essays in Technology and Modernity appeared in 2010. Dr. Feenberg has also co-edited several volumes including (Re)inventing the Internet (2012). In addition to his work on critical theory and philosophy of technology, Dr. Feenberg is also recognized as an early innovator in the field of online education, a field he helped to create in 1982.
Stuart Poyntz is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University.