From Thomas Piketty to David Harvey, scholars are increasingly questioning whether we are entering into a post-capitalist era. If so, does this new epoch signal the failure of capitalism and emergence of alternative systems? Or does it mark the ultimate triumph of capitalism as it evolves into an unstoppable entity that takes new forms as it engulfs its opposition?
After Capitalism brings together leading scholars from across the academy to offer competing perspectives on capitalism’s past incarnations, present conditions, and possible futures. Some contributors reassess classic theorizations of capitalism in light of recent trends, including real estate bubbles, debt relief protests, and the rise of a global creditocracy. Others examine Marx’s writings, unemployment, hoarding, “capitalist realism,” and coyote (trickster) capitalism, among many other topics. Media and design trends locate the key ideologies of the current economic moment, with authors considering everything from the austerity aesthetics of reality TV to the seductive smoothness of liquid crystal.
Even as it draws momentous conclusions about global economic phenomena, After Capitalism also pays close attention to locales as varied as Cuba, India, and Latvia, examining the very different ways that economic conditions have affected the relationship between the state and its citizens. Collectively, these essays raise provocative questions about how we should imagine capitalism in the twenty-first century. Will capitalism, like all economic systems, come to an end, or does there exist in history or elsewhere a hidden world that is already post-capitalist, offering alternative possibilities for thought and action?
Does living in a globally networked society mean that we are moving toward a single, homogenous world culture? Or, are we headed for clashes between center and periphery, imperial and subaltern, Western and non-Western, First and Third World? The interdisciplinary essays in Beyond Globalization present us with another possibility—that new media will lead to new kinds of “worldmaking.”
This provocative volume brings together the best new work of scholars within such diverse fields as history, sociology, anthropology, film, media studies, and art. Whether examining the inauguration of a virtual community on the website Second Life or investigating the appropriation of biotechnology for transgenic art, this collection highlights how mediated practices have become integral to global culture; how social practices have emerged out of computer-related industries; how contemporary apocalyptic narratives reflect the anxieties of a U.S. culture facing global challenges; and how design, play, and technology help us understand the histories and ideals
behind the digital architectures that mediate our everyday actions.
In Neutral Accent, A. Aneesh employs India's call centers as useful sites for studying global change. The horizon of global economic shift, the consequences of global integration, and the ways in which call center work "neutralizes" racial, ethnic, and national identities become visible from the confines of their cubicles. In his interviews with call service workers and in his own work in a call center in the high tech metropolis of Gurgoan, India, Aneesh observed the difficulties these workers face in bridging cultures, laws, and economies: having to speak in an accent that does not betray their ethnicity, location, or social background; learning foreign social norms; and working graveyard shifts to accommodate international customers. Call center work is cast as independent of place, space, and time, and its neutrality—which Aneesh defines as indifference to difference—has become normal business practice in a global economy. The work of call center employees in the globally integrated marketplace comes at a cost, however, as they become disconnected from the local interactions and personal relationships that make their lives anything but neutral.
Workers in India program software applications, transcribe medical dictation online, chase credit card debtors, and sell mobile phones, diet pills, and mortgages for companies based in other countries around the world. While their skills and labor migrate abroad, these workers remain Indian citizens, living and working in India. A. Aneesh calls this phenomenon “virtual migration,” and in this groundbreaking study he examines the emerging “transnational virtual space” where labor and vast quantities of code and data cross national boundaries, but the workers themselves do not. Through an analysis of the work of computer programmers in India working for the American software industry, Aneesh argues that the programming code connecting globally dispersed workers through data servers and computer screens is the key organizing structure behind the growing phenomenon of virtual migration. This “rule of code,” he contends, is a crucial and underexplored aspect of globalization.
Aneesh draws on the sociology of science, social theory, and research on migration to illuminate the practical and theoretical ramifications of virtual migration. He combines these insights with his extensive ethnographic research in offices in three locations in India—in Delhi, Gurgaon, and Noida—and one in New Jersey. Aneesh contrasts virtual migration with “body shopping,” the more familiar practice of physically bringing programmers from other countries to work on site, in this case, bringing them from India to New Jersey. A significant contribution to the social theory of globalization, Virtual Migration maps the expanding transnational space where globalization is enacted via computer programming code.