Life is increasingly governed and mediated through digital and smart technologies, platforms, big data and algorithms. However, the reasons, practices and impact of how the digital is used by different institutions are often deeply linked to social oppression and injustice. Similarly, the ability to resist these digital impositions is based on inequality and privilege. Challenging the ways in which we are increasingly dependent on the digital, this book raises a set of provocative and urgent questions: in a world of compulsory digitality is there an opt out button? Where, when, how, why and to whom is it available? Answering these questions has become even more relevant since the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the book puts forward the concept of 'digital disengagement' which is explored across six key areas of digitisation: health; citizenship; education; consumer culture; labour; and the environment.
Part I examines the difficulty of opting out of compulsory digitality in a world where most things are digital by default. From health apps, algorithmic decision-making to learning analytics, opting out comes with a set of troubling consequences. Part II turns to several examples of disconnection and disengagement. The chapters reveal how phenomena like digital detoxes, time-management apps and online 'green' spaces are co-opted by the very digital systems one is trying to resist.
The book critiques issues relating to digital surveillance, algorithmic discrimination and biased tech, corporatisation and monetisation of data, exploitative digital labour, digitalised self-discipline and destruction of the environment. As an interdisciplinary piece of work, the book will be useful to any scholar and activist in Digital, Internet and Social Media Studies; Digital Sociology and Social Policy; Digital Health; Media, Popular and Communication Studies; Consumer culture; and Environment Studies.
About the Author
Adi Kuntsman is Reader in Digital Politics at the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy, and coordinator of the Digital Politics PhD Pathway, at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Adi specialises in digital politics and online cultures; digital emotions, digital memory and social media militarism. Adi's recent work focuses on the politics of opting out of digital communication; and environmental impacts of digital technologies. Adi is the author of several books, including Figurations of Violence and Belonging: Queerness, Mingranthood and Nationalism in Cyberspace and Beyond and Digital Militarism: Israeli Occupation in the Social Media Age (co-authored with Rebecca L. Stein), and editor of Digital Cultures and the Politics of Emotion (with Athina Aratzgianni) and Selfie Citizenship. ORCiD: 0000-0002-9970-9866
Esperanza Miyake is a Chancellor's Fellow in Journalism, Media & Communication at the University of Strathclyde, UK, where she is also the Postgraduate Director at the School of Humanities. Esperanza specialises in the critical analyses of gender, race and technology. Her most recent book, The Gendered Motorcycle: Representations in Society, Media and Popular Culture politicises representations of technology in visual culture. Most recently, she has been researching the politics of digital identities, including work on Long Covid and patient narratives. Esperanza has also written for international news outlets such as The New York Times, Newsweek Japan, The Conversation and appeared on BBC Radio 4. ORCiD: 0000-0001-5504-7648
"Essential reading for those who want to move beyond personal digital detoxes to challenge and transform our digital society and economy." Professor Rob Kitchin, author of The Data Revolution and Data Lives
"A must read for those wanting to resist the (digital) exclusion of the marginalised, and the (digital) banishment of the vulnerable." Dr Patrick Williams, author of Data-Driven Policing: The Hardwiring of Discriminatory Policing Practices Across Europe
"Rejecting digital inevitability, this book compellingly shows how collective digital justice is imperative." Dr Benedetta Brevini, author of Is AI Good for the Planet?