Algorithmic Ideology: How Capitalist Society Shapes Search Engines

Information, Communication & Society, Forthcoming

17 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2011 Last revised: 13 Sep 2014

Astrid Mager

Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Technology Assessement (ITA)

Date Written: September 12, 2011

Abstract

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This article investigates how the “new spirit of capitalism” (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2007) gets inscribed in the fabric of search algorithms by way of social practices. Drawing on the tradition of the social construction of technology (SCOT) and 17 qualitative expert interviews I discuss how search engines and their “capital accumulation cycle” (Fuchs, forthcoming) are negotiated and stabilized in a network of actors and interests, website providers and users first and foremost. I further show how corporate search engines and their capitalist ideology are solidified in a socio-political context characterized by a techno-euphoric climate of innovation and a politics of privatization. This analysis provides a valuable contribution to contemporary search engine critique mainly focusing on search engines’ business models and societal implications. It shows that a shift of perspective is needed from impacts search engines have on society towards social practices and power relations involved in the construction of search engines to reconsider and renegotiate search engines and their algorithmic ideology in the future.

Keywords: Search engine, social construction of technology, new spirit of capitalism, Google, information economy

JEL Classification: A14

Suggested Citation

Mager, Astrid, Algorithmic Ideology: How Capitalist Society Shapes Search Engines (September 12, 2011). Information, Communication & Society, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1926244 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1926244

Astrid Mager (Contact Author)

Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Technology Assessement (ITA) ( email )

Strohgasse 45/5
Vienna, 1030
Austria

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