Markets and power in digital capitalism

Philipp Staab
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In the digital age, markets become property. Today’s most powerful companies are internet giants like Google, Apple, Amazon and Tencent. The dominant platforms now control digital ecosystems that represent a fundamental transformation of capitalism. Liberalism imagined the market as a free space dedicated to the exchange of goods and services, a creator of knowledge and innovation. The internet meta-platforms have transformed the marketplace into a set of tightly controlled domains. This book examines the historical roots of this phenomenon and outlines its contemporary manifestations. It shows how digital surveillance and algorithmic management are employed to control entire markets, and how the same methods appear in the digital labour process. Widening social inequality is one inevitable outcome. What is specific to digital capitalism, the book argues, is the emergence of ‘proprietary markets’. This signals not only an end to the liberal notion of the economy. The conflicts over its future trajectory will be decisive for life chances in digital capitalism.

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