Transformation of Capitalism in the 21st Century: “Surveillance Capitalism” Concept by Shoshana Zuboff

Transformation of Capitalism in the 21st Century:
“Surveillance Capitalism” Concept by Shoshana Zuboff

Safronov E.E.

Junior Research Fellow, Institute of Philosophy Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia

ID of the Article:

For citation:

Safronov E.E. Transformation of Capitalism in the 21st Century: “Surveillance Capitalism” Concept by Shoshana Zuboff. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2021. No 4. P. 165-172


Among the works falling under the umbrella term “digital capitalism”, Shoshanna Zuboff’s book “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” (2019), which continues her concept of “distributed capitalism”, holds an important place. “Surveillance capitalism” is a new economic order that use human experience as raw material. The article discusses Zuboff’s theory of the «three moderns» and the key imperatives of “surveillance capitalism”: data extraction and predicting consumer behavior. The author concludes with critical arguments pointing out the weaknesses of this concept.

surveillance capitalism; data capitalism; digital capitalism; platform capitalism; social philosophy; social theory


Afanasov N.B. (2019) In Search of Lost Modernity. Sotsiologicheskoye obozreniye [The Russian Sociological Review]. Vol. 18. No. 1: 256–265. DOI: 10.17323/1728-192x-2019-1-256-265. (In Russ.)

Arendt H. (1996) The Origins of Totalitarianism. Moscow: CentrCom. (In Russ.)

Bailey R., Purkayasha P. (2014) U.S. Control of the Internet. Monthly Review. Vol. 66. No. 3. URL: https:// (accessed 31.07.2020).

Courtwright D. (2019) Age of Addiction: How Mad Habits Became Big Business. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Cukier K. (2010) Data, Data Everywhere. Economist. February 27. URL: node/15557443 (accessed 15.03.2021).

Durkheim E. (1991) The Division of Labor in Society. The Rules of Sociological Method. Moscow: Nauka. (In Russ.)

Greenfield A. (2018) Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life. Moscow: “Delo” RANEPA. (In Russ.)

Jenkins H. (2019) Convergence Culture. Moscow: RIPOL classic. (In Russ.)

Keen A. (2012) Digital Vertigo. New York: St. Martin's press.

Kumar K. (2004) From Post-Industrial to Post-Modern Society: New Theories of the Contemporary World. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell.

Morozov A.V. (2019) “Look Out! This is Metamodern”: Modernity as an Umbrella and a Pendulum. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies. 2019. No. 3: 238–249. (In Russ.)

Morozov E. (2014) The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. Moscow: Corpus. (In Russ.)

Pavlov A.V. (2018) Social Theory: Postmodern Turn – and Modernist Turn Out. Obshchestvennyye nauki i sovremennost [Social Sciences and Contemporary World]. No. 5: 158–170. DOI: 10.31857/ S086904990000393-4. (In Russ.)

Polanyi K. (1993) The Self-Regulating Market and the Fictitious Commodities: Labor, Land and Money. Thesis. No. 2: 10–17. (In Russ.)

Polanyi K. (2014) The Great Transformation. St. Petersburg: Aletheia. (In Russ.)

Rheingold H. (2006) Smart Mobs. Moscow: FAIRPRESS. (In Russ.)

Safronov E. (2019) How Accelerationism Became Platform Capitalism. Logos. Vol. 29. No. 3: 279–289. (In Russ.).

Schiller H. (1980) The Mind Managers. Moscow. (In Russ.) Schumpeter J. (2007) The Theory of Economic Development. Moscow: Eksmo. (In Russ.)

Stjernfelt F., Lauritzen M. (2020) Your Post has been Removed. Tech Giants and Freedom of Speech. Switzerland: Springer.

Tapscott D. (1997) The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Vaidyanathan S. (2011) The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry). Oakland: University of California Press.

Wallerstein I., Collins R., Mann M., Derluguian G., Calhoun С. (2017) Collective Introduction: The Next Big Turn. In: Does Capitalism Have a Future? Moscow: In-t Gaidara. (In Russ.)

West S. (2017) Data Capitalism: Redefining the Logics of Surveillance and Privacy. Business & Society. Vol. 58. No. 1: 20–41. DOI: 10.1177/0007650317718185.

Wood E. (1999) The Origin of Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Zuboff S. (2015) Big Other: Surveillance Capitalism and the Prospects of an Information Civilization. Journal of Information Technology. Vol. 30. No. 1: 75–89. DOI: 10.1057/jit.2015.5.

Zuboff S. (1988) In the Age of the Smart Machine. New York: Basic.

Zuboff S. (2019) The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. New York: Public Affairs.

Zuboff S., Maxmin J. (2002) The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism. New York: Viking Press.

Content No 4, 2021