Philipp Staab

Digital Capitalism - Market and Hegemony in the Economy of Superabundance

(German title: Digitaler Kapitalismus)
ca. 320 pages
Philipp Staab
Foto: Philipp Staab
© ECDF/PR/Felix Noak

Philipp Staab, born in 1983, is a Professor for the Sociology of the Future of Work at the Humboldt-University of Berlin.

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What is new about digital capitalism?


Where conglomerates, energy companies and banks dominated the rankings of the highest-valued businesses only 20 years ago they have long since been superseded by internet giants like Google, Apple, Amazon and Tencent. Digital technologies are ubiquitous: We carry around supercomputers in our pockets, washing machines can connect to the internet. But is that all the innovation digital capitalism has to offer?

Philipp Staab examines digital capitalism from different perspectives in order to capture it more precisely. He shows how practices of digital surveillance and evaluation increasingly penetrate economic areas and thereby aggravate social inequality. The specific feature of digital capitalism, according to Staab, is the development of »proprietary markets«: Where it was important in the past to produce things and sell them for a profit, the focus in the age of superabundance is shifting towards ownership of the markets themselves.


»Staab delivers a convincing description of the business model and the expansion of the leading digital companies.« Nico Beckert, Der Tagesspiegel

»The left, critical of capitalism, […] believes that digitalisation could become somewhat of a steppingstone into a post-capitalist era. Could it really? […] Berlin-based economic sociologist Philipp Staab disagrees in his book Digital Capitalism, a recommendable read. According to Staab, it’s not ›expected decentralisation‹ but ›power and control‹ that form the core of the commercial internet […]« Florian Schmid, der Freitag

»With his book Digital Capitalism. Market and Hegemony in the Economy of Superabundance, Philipp Staab [puts] the focus on the fly space of the digital theatre. Staab systematically pursues the question of whether the leading businesses of digital capitalism are but revenants of the known traditional capitalist monopolists or whether they are actually part of a fundamentally changed economic order.« Daniél Kretschmar, taz. die tageszeitung

»Clever and enlightening: Philipp Staab shows how our world is changed by the market power of Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook & co.« Christoph Schreiner, Saarbrücker Zeitung

»The book provides an ambitious and well-written analysis driven by capitalism theory of what is called ›digital capitalism‹ here, with helpful information on many individual aspects. It is a recommendable read, particularly for readers who wish to engage with an economic argument.« G. Günter Voß, Soziopolis

»[…] an important mile stone in the debate about the determination of the characteristics of a digital capitalism [that] provides – particularly as it calls for additional observations – many impulses for further research on the topic.« Alexander Ziegler, Wirtschafts- und sozialwissenschaftliches Institut

»Philipp Staab [...] has written a book no one who deals with the effects of digitalisation on society, the economy, consumerism and politics can pass by.« Herbert Klemisch, contraste