University of São Paulo: USP professors discuss the digital notion of citizenship

The super-industry of the imaginary, image policies, digital citizenship and uncivil society will be discussed at the event Admirable New Thoughts , which will bring together professors Eugênio Bucci, Massimo Di Felice, both from the School of Communications and Arts (ECA) at USP, Giselle Beiguelman, from the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism (FAU), also at USP, and Muniz Sodré, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), who has just assumed the Otavio Frias Filho Chair, maintained by the Institute of Advanced Studies (IEA ) from USP and Folha de S. Paulo ( read the text below ). Mediated by Professor Carlos Vogt, from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), the event takes place this Thursday, the 9th, from 3 pm to 5 pm, with live broadcast on theIEA website .

Opening the debates, Professor Eugênio Bucci, academic coordinator of the Oscar Sala Chair, which organizes the event, talks about his new book, The Superindústria do Imaginário: How Capital Transformed the Look into Work and Appropriated Everything Visible (Publisher Authentic). As the author describes in the book’s ear, capitalism entered into an accelerated mutation and the body of the merchandise lost its place to the image of the merchandise, questioning the subject by desire, no longer by necessity.

“The use value gave way to the enjoyment value. Thus, the global monopoly conglomerates that deal with communication, exploration of the gaze and extraction of personal data – and of which digital media are a fuel and an extension – have become the center of capitalism, the most blazing aura of the super-industry of the imaginary,” writes Bucci. To explain this change of course from which communication developed the ability to manufacture value on a super-industrial scale, dominating capitalism, the professor uses concepts from legal sociology, linguistics, physics, philosophy, psychoanalysis and political economy, as well as elements of its own Communication.

Also recently launched, the book Politics of the Image: Surveillance and Resistance at Datafera (UBU Editora), by Giselle Beiguelman, columnist for Rádio USP, deals with the role of image in social relations today. Digital image, selfies, memes, deep fake , internet of things, Artificial Intelligence and digital censorship are discussed in unpublished essays, in a reflection on the image in the contemporary world. According to the author, images have become the main mediation interfaces in everyday life, and are currently a field of tensions and political disputes.

As Giselle says, the countless production of images configures a new aesthetic of surveillance. For the author, the massive distribution of smartphones is associated with a new surveillance regime, no longer instituted by the State, but a result of the systematic capture of personal data, deliberately offered by users to social media platforms – the datasphere. “The image has become a battleground. An unstable territory crossed by all sorts of clashes: technological, aesthetic, commercial, social, subjective, biopolitical”, writes professor Fernanda Bruno, from UFRJ, in the book’s presentation.

The book A Cidadania Digital , by Professor Massimo Di Felice, published in Brazil by Editora Paulus, proposes a theoretical analysis of the epistemic rupture of contemporaneity. According to Felice, at the beginning of the third millennium, we entered a profound process of transformation. “Not only the pandemic, but also climate change and the set of digital technological innovations imposed a change of pace on us and a profound transformation of our living conditions”, he writes. According to him, these new social actors are capable of influencing and altering people’s decision-making processes and their actions.

Felice argues that, in the face of such changes, the idea of ​​a society composed only of citizens is obsolete, giving way to another ecology, formed by another type of parliaments to which we have access through software, sensors and big data, and which, connecting the diverse surfaces of Gaia bring together the entire biosphere. “The citizenship of the third millennium is the result of the connectivity and interaction of the various spheres: the biological, the geological, the climate, which, once transformed into data by the ‘ datification ‘ process, start to compose a new and interactive one.’ co-world’”, he says, adding that “we have entered the era of ‘hyperintelligences’, as J. Lovelock defines it, where we inhabit ‘sympoietic’ networks (D. Haraway) and in which we act, think, decide and change while connected” .

Uncivil society is a concept defended by the new IEA professor Muniz Sodré in his book that has just been published by Editora Vozes. The Uncivil Society: Media, Illiberalism and Finance presents the changes from the old liberal civilization. As an extract from the work describes: “The social, political and cultural consequences of the phenomenon of ‘illiberalism’ are disturbing because of their recurrent threat to the stability of democracy and institutions in different regions of the planet”. For the author, this is the zero-world of values ​​or the “uncivil” society, as he defines it. His book suggests the regeneration of objective reality asphyxiated by networks, proposing the reinvention of praxis through the search for reconciling politics with the spirit.

The Brave New Thoughts event will be held this Thursday, the 9th, from 3 pm to 5 pm, and will be broadcast live on the IEA website . Free of charge. No registration required. More information at this link .

Sociologist and communicator Muniz Sodré assumes Otavio Frias Filho Chair

Professor Emeritus and one of the founders of the School of Communication (ECO) of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Muniz Sodré is the first holder of the Otavio Frias Filho Chair, created in February this year at the Institute of Advanced Studies (IEA) of the USP, from an agreement signed between the University and Folha de S. Paulo . Aiming to develop studies in the areas of communication, democracy and diversity, the chair is a center for research and dissemination of knowledge on the role of communication, especially journalism, for the maintenance and constant strengthening of democracy, including rights of minorities and against different types of discrimination, as well as other related phenomena, such as new populisms, which threaten the democratic rule of law.

As stated by Sodré, in an interview with journalist Mauro Bellesa, from the IEA, his research is related to the “multiform inquiry about the existence and consistency of the Brazilian people”, which, according to him, takes on new contours in this century from “a movement bottom-up identity, in which human diversity imposes itself and calls into question the uniqueness of the ‘national people’”. On the other hand, he says, the parallel reality that has been progressively constructed by media and algorithms also invents a specific people, asking: “what would the Brazilian people be after all?”.

Another debate proposed by Sodré, as he reports in the interview, is how to counteract what he calls “speech hijacking”, that is, “the intervention of electronic communication in social discourses”. According to him, “the cryptographic underground constitutes a universe apart, whose ‘shadow’ has reality and progressively expropriates the autonomous circuits of speech. This is something that is observed even on the surface of everyday linguistic exchanges. Functional communication at the exclusive service of the market neutralizes community speech”. Furthermore, he says, “the power of capital tries to build an immobile social order, but full of programmed responses. The consuming subject revels in the compulsion to repeat, oblivious to the kidnapping of both the human and nature by power, fascinated by the simulated creation of wealth and goods”.

Sodré still speaks in the interview about the future of journalism and the emptying of political representation. According to him, the news is a kind of time-stamping of daily life by the event, but when “the news is only guaranteed by the subject’s click on a computer keyboard or cell phone, it does not keep the proper distance from gossip or rumor”. For him, it is journalism’s task to restore the dignity of news, possibly combining it with the debate of ideas and the social criticism of institutions.

On the issue of the weakening of political representation, he said that this is a worldwide phenomenon, with different modalities and in different degrees of intensity: “It goes hand in hand with the weakening of the parliamentary regime and of political democracy.” For him, politics is fundamental and rebuilding it implies seeking deliberative forms that are not totally homogeneous with capital. “The issue of networks is important, but it is not central.”

Born in São Gonçalo, Bahia, Sodré graduated in Law from the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), has a Master’s in Sociology of Information and Communication from the Sorbonne University (France) and a Ph.D. in Letters from UFRJ, where he works as a professor in Communication. With a postdoctoral degree also from the Sorbonne, he served as a research collaborator at the University of Tampere, Finland. He worked as a journalist in several publications, leaving the area in 1974 to dedicate himself to an academic career. He directed the TV Educativa and was president of the National Library. Currently, he is a member of the Bahia Academy of Letters and has distinguished himself in research on Afro-Brazilian culture and its defense and in the fight against racism. He is the author of 45 books, including the recent The Incivil Society: Media, Illiberalism and Finance .