The ambivalent spectacle: A critical inquiry on Web 2.0 media and alienation


  • Ailesha Lynn Ringer University of New Mexico
  • Marco Briziarelli University of New Mexico


new media, Guy Debord, Karl Marx, alienation, spectacle


In this paper we test the limits of one of the more influential critical inquiries linking media to Marx’s notion of alienation: Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle as applied to web 2.0 media landscapes. While in need of qualification and historicization to interpret web 2.0 media, we argue that the idea of the Spectacle provides a useful holistic perspective capable of reconciling the ambivalent phenomena of alienation that can be found in this new context. Thereafter, by exploring how web 2.0 media practices are consistently tied to labor and value creation, we argue in favor of a materialist approach to media, which treats means of communication as a means of production. Furthermore, we contend that in the new media landscape, Debord’s Spectacle becomes a useful heuristic for understanding (new) mediation as alienation, what we term, ‘Spectacle 2.0.’

Author Biography

Ailesha Lynn Ringer, University of New Mexico

Department of Communication and Journalism Ph.D. Student & Instructor






Special Theme Articles