Carolyn Pedwell on digital culture, intuition and new social movements / by Susan Rudy

       Carolyn Pedwell

       Carolyn Pedwell

With the rise of new digital and smart technologies, it has been claimed, ‘the human’ itself has been fundamentally re-mediated.  For some, this is problematic: digitally colonized by global capitalism at the level of affect, gesture and habit, it is argued, we are now locked into cycles of mindless consumption and thus increasingly politically disaffected and disengaged. 

There are also, however, more hopeful visions of these new digital modes of personhood and their latent potentialities: Michael Serres (2015), for example, argues that,in delegating habits of mental synthesizing and processing to digital technologies, millennials have cleared cognitive space for the development of a more ‘inventive’ and ‘intuitive’ mode of being-in-the-world. 

A key term in both early twentieth-century philosophies of habit and more recent theories of affect, intuition offers a form of sensorial engagement with 'the pre-emergent’ or that which is in process – it is ‘a moment of our own duration that enables us to connect with a wider one’ (Kember and Zylynska, 2012: 15). 

While there is no necessary link between intuition and progressive social transformation, there are, I want to suggest, significant resonances between the ‘intuitive digital subjects’ that Serres imagines and the logics and sensibilities of new movements for social justice - from Occupy, to Black Lives Matter to the various forms of feminist, queer, trans and anti-fascist mobilisation gaining momentum in the wake of Trumpism. 

Vitally enabled by digital technologies and forms of technè, these overlapping activisms each, in different ways, practice‘pre-figurative politics’: Led by a tendency to oppose various forms of exploitation and oppression, they also seek to become attuned to change as it is happening and thus remain radically open to the alternative forms that different futures might take.

Hear the full paper, entitled "Habits of Solidarity: Digital Culture, Intuition and New Social Movements," at the launch of S A L O N - LONDON on November 3rd, 2017.