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[Commlist] New Book: Marx and Digital Machines: Alienation, Technology and Capitalism for Commlist

Mon Oct 19 16:44:02 GMT 2020

New open access book publication:

Marx and Digital Machines:

Alienation, Technology and Capitalism
Mike Healy

This book explores the fundamental contradiction at the heart of the digital environment: technology offers all manner of promises, yet habitually fails to deliver. This failure often arises from numerous problems: the proficiency of the technology or end-user, policy failure at various levels, or a combination of these. Solutions such as better technology and more effective end-user education are often put into place to solve these failures. Mike Healy argues that such approaches are inherently faulty drawing upon qualitative research informed by Marx’s theory of alienation. Using Marx’s theory, he considers participants in three distinct settings: the workplace of information and communications technology (ICT) professionals; university scholars researching the ethical and societal implications of our digital environment; and a group of pensioners living in South London, UK, undertaking ICT training. By delving beneath the surface of how digital technologies are created, researched and experienced, this study illustrates the contradictory nature of our digital lives, as they directly arise from the needs of capitalism. The book also places Marx’s theory in contrast to the mainstream approaches derived from Seaman and Blauner. In researching and comprehending ICT, this book reaffirms the superior explanatory power of Marx’s theory of alienation.


1. Introduction: Contractions of ICT

2. Theories of Alienation – Seeman and Marx

3. Researching Alienation

4. Alienation and Work: ICT Professionals

5. Researching ICT: The Scholars’ Alienated Experience

6. Alienation and Work: A Common View

7. ICT, Senior End-users and Alienation

8. Critique and Conclusion



Mike Healy**is an independent researcher, was previously a Senior Lecturer at Westminster Business School, University of Westminster. His published work includes papers on ethics and ICT, diversity and employment in the ICT sector, problems of e-government and (using Marx’s theory of alienation) dignity in the IT sector. He is currently researching Covid-19 and digital technologies.

Open Access

PDF, ePub and kindle versions available free from books:

PDF 978-1-912656-80-6 ePub 978-1 912656-81-3 Kindle978-1-912656-82-0

DOI: 10.16997/book47

Format 170 pages 229 x 152mm


UK£19.99 US$24.95EUR €21 CAN $30 AUS $34


Communication Studies |Science and Technology Studies| Science and Technology Studies

Published open access by the University of Westminster Press

Published 16 October 2020
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