Smartphone Society

I’m very excited to announce the upcoming publication of my new book:

The Smartphone Society: Technology, Power, and Resistance in the New Gilded Age

The book will be published by Beacon Press in March 2020.

Check back here for updates!


In the span of a decade smartphones have become ubiquitous. More than half the world now uses one. In the United States, 77 percent of the population, including 92 percent of young adults, owns a smartphone today. The smartphone is a high-powered computer that is always on and always with us. It’s a real-time, high-speed digital freeway, connecting us to others and others to us twenty-four hours a day. Most of us are rather blasé about this development, but we shouldn’t be. This perpetual connection is both unprecedented and deeply meaningful; it is central to radical changes in work, family, love, markets, politics, and ideas, and is fundamentally shaped by existing structures of race, class, and gender.

In this New Gilded Age corporations and governments have hijacked the digital freeway, co-opting our connectivity for profit and control. Network effects and aggressive efforts to control markets have turned platform companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon into modern-day monopolies with dire consequences for privacy, job creation, and inequality. Meanwhile, an unprecedented surveillance state has emerged that uses our phones to digitally monitor, harass, and even kill in countries across the globe.

But people are using their smartphones to fight back. After a long bout of quiescence to the neoliberal status quo, global capitalism is experiencing a growing crisis of legitimacy. In a moment when the boundaries between the public and the private and the digital and the “real” are increasingly blurred, our hand machines have reconfigured how people engage in politics and how we understand democracy and privacy. New modes of resistance are emerging, signaling the possibility that our pocket computers could be harnessed for the benefit of people, not profit.

The birth of the smartphone alongside the deepest financial crisis of the past seventy years have generated a society that looks qualitatively different from the one we’ve known for the past four decades. Yet the nature of this shift is not yet well understood. The battle over who controls our smartphones will determine whether our hand machines will tether us ever more tightly to processes of commodification and oppression, or serve as a liberatory tool to resist corporate monopoly and increasingly authoritarian governments—and build a better future.