Contemporary technology discourse and the legitimation of capitalism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At the center of contemporary discourse on technology - or the digital discourse - is the assertion that network technology ushers in a new phase of capitalism which is more democratic, participatory, and de-alienating for individuals. Rather than viewing this discourse as a transparent description of the new realities of techno-capitalism and judging its claims as true (as the hegemonic view sees it) or false (a view expressed by few critical voices), this article offers a new framework which sees the digital discourse as signaling a historical shift in the technological legitimation of capitalism, concurrent with the emergence of the post-Fordist phase of capitalism. Technology discourse legitimated the Fordist phase of capitalism by stressing the ability of technology and technique to mitigate exploitation. It hence legitimated the interventionist welfare state, the central planning in businesses and the economy, the hierarchized corporation, and the tenured worker. In contrast, contemporary technology discourse legitimates the post-Fordist phase of capitalism by stressing the ability of technology to mitigate alienation. It hence legitimates the withdrawal of the state from markets, the dehierarchization and decentralization of businesses, and the flexibilization of production and the labor process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-252
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Capitalism
  • Critical Theory
  • Information technology
  • Legitimation
  • Post-Fordism
  • Technology discourse


Dive into the research topics of 'Contemporary technology discourse and the legitimation of capitalism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this