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Digital Capitalism and its Inequalities

Key Information

Course details
MSc Option course, Hilary Term
Reading list
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Professor Mark Graham



The internet is the central nervous system of contemporary capitalism: connecting world cities, remote villages, and everything in between into a global network. This course is designed for an exploration of how connectivity impacts economic development, economic relationships, and economic inequalities. It will draw on resources from Geography, Development Studies, Sociology, Economics, Internet Studies, Media Studies and Anthropology in order to examine the theoretical and conceptual frameworks used to understand inequalities within digital capitalism. It will encourage students to reflect on what the digital has done, is doing, and will do to global capitalism and all of those who live within it.

Course Objectives

This course will expose students to some of the key debates that link digital transformations to economic, social, and political inequalities. Students will be familiarised with a variety of theoretical movements in development studies and internet studies: exploring thinking that frames the internet as a leveller that can bridge divides vs. exploring the internet as an infrastructure that amplifies existing inequalities. The course ultimately aims to encourage students to ask questions about digital technologies and power: who do they empower?; who do they disempower?; Can we imagine a capitalism without the digital? Can we imagine the digital without capitalism?


Learning Outcomes

Upon course completion students will:

• Have a familiarity with key debates relating to digital capitalism and inequalities.

• Be able to formulate well-grounded research questions on topics related to roles played digital technologies at economic margins.

• Be able to link theory and practice on topics relating to uneven development, connectivity, digital production networks, race and the digital, digital labour, data justice, and post-capitalist alternatives.

Seven topics will be covered: (1) Uneven development; (2) Development in a Connected Society; (3) Changing Connectivities and Digital Production Networks; (4) Programmed Inequality; (5) Datafication: Data Colonialism and Data Justice; (6) AI, Automation, and a Planetary Labour Market; (7) Taming Digital Capitalism.