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Title: Overconnected, under-engaged : when alienation goes online
Author: Puusalu, J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7962 9169
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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The emergence and development of Internet enabling communication technology has created new possibilities for people to interact and has changed the culture of communication more generally. This thesis analyses the way that these developments have impacted the social world and the communicative relations between individuals who live in it. To do so, I put research on online communication into contact with the Marxist and first-generation Critical Theory discourse of 'alienation'. Using 'alienation' as a methodological lens, I draw out the similarities and differences between the contemporary social world and the alienating socio-economic-political systems of earlier periods of capitalism. I argue that contemporary capitalism has structured online communication so that it distorts intersubjective relations between individuals. Consequently, the relationship between the contemporary individual and the social world in which they live represents a distinct and new form of 'alienation'. The thesis is divided into three parts: alienation, subjectivity and contemporary alienation. First, I conduct an exegesis of the tradition of theorising alienation that runs from Karl Marx through to the first-generation Critical Theorists. I establish alienation as a critical concept and examine how capitalism's domination of that relationship has gradually widened as that system has developed. Second, drawing on Judith Butler's theory of the account giving subject and Axel Honneth's theory of recognition, I reconstruct an account of the individual as a communicative subject. I engage with Jürgen Habermas's theory of communicative action to establish a theory of the social world as constituted through intersubjective communicative relationships. In the final part of thesis, I argue that the contemporary social world is formed by online and offline communicative ecosystems and discuss the contemporary socio-economic-political system. Finally, I bring together the themes of the thesis to describe the distinctive features of contemporary alienation.
Supervisor: Hauskeller, C. ; Inglis, D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available