I’m excited to share an open access version of my chapter “Towards a a Software of the Oppressed: A Freirean Approach to Surveillance Capitalism.” The chapter was recently published in Reinventing Pedagogy of the Oppressed, an incredible collection of essays on Freire’s relevance today. Thanks to the brilliant editor James Kirylo and writers for making it happen!
In this chapter, I show how Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy provides a helpful framework for theorizing and resisting the oppressive digital technologies and practices of surveillance capitalism from the position of the classroom. I begin by providing an overview of how Freire’s notion of oppression can help us identify the concrete cultural, legal, and technical ways that digital technology companies actively suppress democratic participation in the oversight and development of digital tools and platforms. I argue that the passive adoption of the tools of surveillance capitalism within the university represent a type of “hidden curriculum” in which students and the broader academic community learn to passively accept them as natural, neutral, and inevitable. I then sketch out a Freirean theory of digital liberation in and through the classroom and point to examples that show how students and educators might critically participate in the shaping of our digital world.