Nudgital: Critique of Behavioral Political Economy

31 Pages Posted: 16 May 2018 Last revised: 5 Feb 2019

See all articles by Julia M. Puaschunder

Julia M. Puaschunder

Columbia University; New School for Social Research; Harvard University; The Situationist Project on Law and Mind Sciences

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Date Written: April 4, 2018


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. In modern democracies, the right to rule was recently 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, Social media capitalist-industrialist, Social media consumer-worker, Social med

Suggested Citation

Puaschunder, Julia M., Nudgital: Critique of Behavioral Political Economy (April 4, 2018). Proceedings of the 9th International RAIS Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities, pp. 87-117, Available at SSRN: or

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