Writing Out Loud: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

The 21st century has seen the rise of a new form of capitalism rooted in the collection of big data that allows companies like Google and Facebook to predict our behavior and sell those predictions to advertisers. As you read Zuboff’s analysis of this system, please consider the following:

Theme: Networks of Capital


  1. Zuboff outlines a new form of capitalism rooted in machine intelligence. She calls this new system “surveillance capitalism.” Please explain this new form of capitalism in your own words and provide an example.
  2. Zuboff is especially concerned about how companies can manipulate us through big data, which she calls “instrumentarian power.” What instrumentarian power, and why does Zuboff think it’s so insidious?
  3. Zuboff worries that surveillance capitalism destroys democracy. Why does she think that, and what do you think? What might we do to change surveillance capitalism?
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