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Subjects of value and digital personas: reshaping the bourgeois subject, unhinging property from personhood

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>8/03/2019
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)82-99
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date14/12/18
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Social media may have brought about changes in our understanding of property and subjectivity. Contrary to the rhetoric of ‘sharing’ and ‘disruption’ associated with it, this paper proposes that these changes are far more dependent upon existing class-, race- and gender-based constructions of the subject and property ownership than is often assumed. Drawing upon interviews and findings from a study combining qualitative methods with Software Studies approaches, we argue that the bourgeois paradigm of ‘possessive individualism’ has been extended and capitalized through platforms such as Facebook. In doing so, the potential for capital to extract value from possessions and capacities (such as land and labour) has been extended to capture value from personal attributes (as data) through processes of curation and aggregation. In doing so, the ambiguity between property and propriety upon which the bourgeois subject was originally founded is expanded whilst simultaneously extending and exploiting the inequalities that this facilitates.