Log on to any social media and you’ll be plunged into a whirlwind of demands for recognition, each voice trying to shout louder than the others. And for decades, political theorists have thought that the demand for recognition is one of the most powerful forces driving popular discontent – on right and left. But what happens to the demand for recognition when it collides with the digital platform? Who seeks recognition and from whom, and why has reputation become so politically important? And is this linked to the degradation of the public sphere?
Will Davies, Professor in Political Economy at Goldsmiths, has written on the politics of recognition and reputation in the digital era for the New Left Review. He joins James Butler to discuss that transformation, and delve into the secret explanation linking together online outrage machines, why apparently prosperous right-wing voters identify as ‘left behind’, and the modern hunger for authenticity.