Books  |  ,   |  January 15, 2019

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

Book by Shoshana Zuboff.
Published by Public Affairs Books.
704 pages.

The challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, the first detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called “surveillance capitalism,” and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control our behavior.

In this masterwork of original thinking and research, Shoshana Zuboff provides startling insights into the phenomenon that she has named surveillance capitalism. The stakes could not be higher: a global architecture of behavior modification threatens human nature in the twenty-first century just as industrial capitalism disfigured the natural world in the twentieth.

Zuboff vividly brings to life the consequences as surveillance capitalism advances from Silicon Valley into every economic sector. Vast wealth and power are accumulated in ominous new “behavioral futures markets,” where predictions about our behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new “means of behavioral modification.”

The threat has shifted from a totalitarian Big Brother state to a ubiquitous digital architecture: a “Big Other” operating in the interests of surveillance capital. Here is the crucible of an unprecedented form of power marked by extreme concentrations of knowledge and free from democratic oversight. Zuboff’s comprehensive and moving analysis lays bare the threats to twenty-first century society: a controlled “hive” of total connection that seduces with promises of total certainty for maximum profit–at the expense of democracy, freedom, and our human future.
With little resistance from law or society, surveillance capitalism is on the verge of dominating the social order and shaping the digital future–if we let it.

Table of Contents

1 Home or Exile in the Digital Future

Part I – The Foundations of Surveillance Capitalism

  • 2 August 9, 2011: Setting the Stage for Surveillance Capitalism
  • 3 The Discovery of Behavioral Surplus
  • 4 The Moat Around the Castle
  • 5 The Elaboration of Surveillance Capitalism: Kidnap, Corner, Compete
  • 6 Hijacked: The Division of Learning in Society

Part II – The Advance of Surveillance Capitalism

  • 7 The Reality Business
  • 8 Rendition: From Experience to Data
  • 9 Rendition from the Depths
  • 10 Make Them Dance
  • 11 The Right to the Future Tense

Part III – Instrumentarian Power for a Third Modernity

  • 12 Two Species of Power
  • 13 Big Other and the Rise of Instrumentarian Power
  • 14 A Utopia of Certainty
  • 15 The Instrumentarian Collective
  • 16 Of Life in the Hive
  • 17 The Right to Sanctuary


18 A Coup from Above

About the Author

Shoshana Zuboff is the Charles Edward Wilson Professor emerita, Harvard Business School. She is the author of In The Age of the Smart Machine: the Future of Workand Power and The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and her BA from the University of Chicago.