Publicity's Secret: How Technoculture Capitalizes on Democracy

Publicity's Secret: How Technoculture Capitalizes on Democracy

by Jodi Dean


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In recent decades, media outlets in the United States—most notably the Internet—have claimed to serve the public's ever-greater thirst for information. Scandals are revealed, details are laid bare because "the public needs to know." In Publicity's Secret, Jodi Dean claims that the public's demands for information both coincide with the interests of the media industry and reinforce the cynicism promoted by contemporary technoculture. Democracy has become a spectacle, and Dean asserts that theories of the "public sphere" endanger democratic politics in the information age.

Dean's argument is built around analyses of Bill Gates, Theodore Kaczynski, popular journalism, the Internet and technology, as well as the conspiracy theory subculture that has marked American history from the Declaration Independence to the political celebrity of Hillary Rodham Clinton. The author claims that the media's insistence on the public's right to know leads to the indiscriminate investigation and dissemination of secrets. Consequently, in her view, the theoretical ideal of the public sphere, in which all processes are transparent, reduces real-world politics to the drama of the secret and its discovery.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801438141
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 07/26/2002
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.76(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jodi Dean is Associate Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is the author of Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace and the editor of Cultural Studies and Political Theory, both from Cornell.

Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Communicative Capitalism: The Ideological Matrix
1. Publicity's Secret
2. Conspiracy's Desire
3. Little Brothers
4. Celebrity's Drive
Conclusion: Neo-DemocracyNotes

What People are Saying About This

Slavoj Zizek

"Jodi Dean's new book approaches the key issue of today's critical theory: how are we to subtract the authentic democratic impulse from its perversion in the media-manipulated notion of 'public' and 'public support'? Is the situation so manipulated that true democracy cannot survive? Or should we start to look for sites of resistance even in odd places like UFO and conspiracy theories? In short, to say 'I am engaged in critical theory and don't want to read Dean's book'is a contradiction in terms: the book is A MUST!"

Joan Copjec

"Removing secrets from the soul, where we traditionally suppose them to hide, and from the acts of divination that pretend to uncover them, Jodi Dean examines the genesis of secrecy as a ploy of modern technology. In doing so she does far more than place the secret 'out there' in the various technologies that have become the life-support of a thriving capitalism, she exposes the way a new ideology of intimacy threatens the very possibility of radical democracy. Political, cultural, and psychoanalytic insights spring from each page of this lively and timely book, raising critical concerns about our hasty acceptance of degraded notions of publicity."

Michael Shapiro

"At a time when much of the writing about the politics of net culture is glib and epigrammatic, Jodi Dean provides an analysis that is theoretically profound and politically astute. Publicity's Secret is an important and distinctive contribution to thought about the public sphere, democracy, and secrecy."

Kalle Lasn

"Jodi Dean takes us one step deeper into the mindscape of consumer capitalism."

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