The Illusion of Transparency: Neoliberalism, Depoliticisation and Information As Commodity

27 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2018

See all articles by Rachel Adams

Rachel Adams

Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute for Advanced Legal Studies; Research Use and Impact Assessment, Human Sciences Research Council

Date Written: November 8, 2018

Abstract

In this article I explore the idea of transparency as a function of neoliberalism. More critically, I examine how the global concept of transparency (broadly understood as a call for the greater liberalization of information) is engendering the commodification of information as the good to be produced and exchanged, by putting information into circulation through public disclosures. By drawing on Debord’s account of the society of the spectacle produced through the maximization of commodification, I argue and show that transparency produces the illusion of a society that can be seen, known, understood and trusted. I explore the effects of this illusion of transparency as depoliticizing through a reading of Žižek’s notion of the post-modern permissive society, Lefebvre’s critique of the depoliticisation caused by transparent spaces, and a critical reflection on transparency’s claim of promoting trust.

Keywords: Transparency; Neoliberalism; Commodification; Information; Debord; Žižek; Lefebvre

Suggested Citation

Adams, Rachel, The Illusion of Transparency: Neoliberalism, Depoliticisation and Information As Commodity (November 8, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3281074 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3281074

Rachel Adams (Contact Author)

Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute for Advanced Legal Studies ( email )

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London, WC1B 5DR
United Kingdom

Research Use and Impact Assessment, Human Sciences Research Council ( email )

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South Africa

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