Nudgital: Critique of Behavioral Political Economy

Proceedings 9th International RAIS Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities organized by Research Association for Interdisciplinary Studies (RAIS) at The Erdman Center at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States; Archives of Business Research, 5, 9, 54-76, 2017

29 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2017 Last revised: 19 Apr 2018

See all articles by Julia M. Puaschunder

Julia M. Puaschunder

Harvard University; New School for Social Research; Columbia University; Princeton University; George Washington University Center for International Business Education and Research; The New School - Bernard Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (CEPA)

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Date Written: March 2, 2017

Abstract

Behavioral Economics revolutionized mainstream neo-classical economics. A wide range of psychological, economic and sociological laboratory and field experiments proved human beings deviating from rational choices as standard neo-classical profit maximization axioms failed to explain how human actually behave. Human beings rather use heuristics in their day-to-day decision making. These mental short cuts enable to cope with a complex world yet also often leave individuals biased and falling astray to decision making failures. What followed was the powerful extension of these behavioral insights for public administration and public policy making. Behavioral economists proposed to nudge and wink citizens to make better choices for them and the community. Many different applications of rational coordination followed ranging from improved organ donations, health, wealth and time management, to name a few. Yet completely undescribed remains that the implicit hidden persuasion opens a gate to deception and is an unprecedented social class division means. Social media forces are captures as unfolding a class dividing nudgital society, in which the provider of social communication tools can reap surplus value from the information shared of social media users. The social media provider is outlined as capitalist-industrialist, who benefits from the information shared by social media users, or so-called consumer-workers, who share private information in their wish to interact with friends and communicate to public. The social media capitalist-industrialist reaps surplus value from the social media consumer-workers’ information sharing, which stems from nudging social media users. For one, social media space can be sold to marketers who can constantly penetrate the consumer-worker in a subliminal way with advertisements. But also nudging occurs as the big data compiled about the social media consumer-worker can be resold to marketers and technocrats to draw inferences about consumer choices, contemporary market trends or individual personality cues used for governance control, such as, for instance, border protection and tax compliance purposes. To draw attention to this implicit struggle within society is important for various reasons: Addressing the nudgital society allows to better understand the laws of motion of governance in the digital age, leading to the potentially unequal accumulation and concentration of power. Technological improvement in the age of information has increased the possibilities to control the innocent social media users and reap the benefits of their existence in hidden persuasion. In the age of populism, nudging can be criticized to be used by the ruling class to exploit the governed populace. In modern democracies, the right to rule was recently proven to be plundered in democratic votes through misguiding information of alternative facts and fake news circulated on social media. The socio-ethical crises that are rooted in the contradictory class division of the nudgital society are presented in this paper for the first time and from there on demand for further description and research on capitalism and democracy in the digital age. The paper advocates for a democratisation of information, education about nudges and well-informed distribution of transparent governance control.

Keywords: Behavioral Economics, Behavioral Political Economy, Democratisation of information, Education, Exchange value, Governance, Libertarian Paternalism, Nudging, Nudgital, Right to delete, Right to be forgotten, Social media capitalist-industrialist, Social media consumer-worker, Surplus Value, Use value

Suggested Citation

Puaschunder, Julia M., Nudgital: Critique of Behavioral Political Economy (March 2, 2017). Proceedings 9th International RAIS Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities organized by Research Association for Interdisciplinary Studies (RAIS) at The Erdman Center at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States; Archives of Business Research, 5, 9, 54-76, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2926276 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2926276

Julia M. Puaschunder (Contact Author)

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