Social Media and the Body in Capitalism

Bettine Josties & Anna Thieser
Social Media and the Body in Capitalism

Block seminar, English, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
2 weekends, 11h-18 h each day: 10./11.06. & 17./18.06, Hardenbergstr. 33, room 102

Registration on Moodle starts on the 17th of April / Anmeldung auf Moodle beginnt am 17.4.2023:
Moodle Enrollment Key / Einschreibeschlüssel: economy

INFO SESSION: 25.4.2023, 16h:
Meeting ID: 917 0979 4573

What is it that we do when we produce and consume content on social media? This seminar invites students to explore social media as an economic force and as an experience. Social media and our smartphones mediate our daily rhythms, workflow, friendships, and thoughts. They shape our bodily experience of capitalism as they accompany and affect us in our most intimate spheres and at the same time connect us to the world economy.

How did we get here? How did social media become part of the economy and extend its influence over work, friendship, love and discourse, down to our personal views from our bodies to the world? Is producing and consuming content work? Framing social media as an economic sphere, a realm of production and labor and therefore as a bodily relation, we will explore how the body inhabits and is captured by social media – but also how it can serve as a source of resistance. The seminar also includes a practical component: students will creatively position themselves by creating, curating, and writing about content in the context of the course. We will use these exercises to broaden our bodily and intellectual understanding of how social media integrate the human body into digital capitalism and make use of it. At the same time, we explore the potential of our bodily interaction with smartphones to actively subvert the aesthetics and economic logic of capitalist social media.

Requirements for the ungraded Studium Generale credits: There will be a set of preparatory readings to complete ahead of the first and second weekends, along with a practical component of prompts for creating and writing about content.

Bettine Josties is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at The New School for Social Research in New York. She holds an MA and a BA in Social Sciences from the Humboldt University of Berlin. Her research interest lies in the relationship between the economy, technologies, and the body. Her dissertation explores the practice of dancing on TikTok from an ethnographic and political economy perspective. She has taught sociology, media and design studies, and art history classes. During the academic year 2022-23, she is a fellow of the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought at The New School.

Anna Thieser is a sociologist in training. At Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (BA), The New School for Social Research (MA) and Columbia University (PhD) she has written about technology, knowledge and financialization. Her current research interests include blockchain governance on Ethereum, the cooptation of user-generated content by platform infrastructures and online collaboration. She has taught classes in media studies, organization science and sociological theory. Beyond sociology, Anna has worked as an editor and translator in academic and literary publishing, as well as in film production. She lives in New York and Berlin.