Digital capitalism troubles classical notions of contextual singularity and agential unity and destabilises delineations of online and offline realities. Following Floridi, this paper applies the concept of ‘onlife’ for the ‘new experience of a hypermediated reality’, and we contribute to the understanding of this experience by highlighting the socioeconomic entanglements of users’ self-expression and technological corporations’ profiteering. We introduce the notion of onlife intersectionalities, where intersectionalities are understood as the enactment of identities at the crossroad of gender, race, sexuality, class, etc., and add the dimension of commercial interest to better conceptualise dynamics of empowerment and exploitation. Thus, we suggest that onlife intersectionalities are enacted in and as flows of playbour that produce surplus value through playful activity. Seeking empirical substance for these conceptual relations, we turn to the case of women in online gaming. Focusing on three individual women gamers’ onlife trajectories and flows of playbour, we show how these interact differently for each gamer, leading to more play with higher rewards for some and more labour with less compensation for others. With this analysis, we illustrate the exploitation-cum-empowerment of human subjects under digital capitalism.
Bibliographical notePublished online: February 25, 2023.
- Digital capitalism