Radboud Reflects – Online Anger as Capital

Lecture an conversation by philosopher Joseph Vogl and economist Ivan Boldyrev
Language No Problem

The growth of social media has provided ideal conditions for feelings of anger and frustration to be expressed and shared. Social media have become part of our economic and political system, they do not offer a product, but a platform for everyone’s opinions. As a result feelings of resentment are being used and exploited by populist and authoritarian leaders. Come and learn from philosopher Joseph Vogl how the capitalist system behind social media benefits from fueling resentment.

This program is in English.

Nurturing ressentiment

Powerful new social media platforms are trying to earn as much money as possible by monetizing our online posts. This influences our society and is reshaping our economy, states Joseph Vogl. The more engagement social media posts generate, the more money is to be made. As a consequence, people are pushed into fragmentated, opposing, and conflictual communities. In short: resentment is nurtured by the way platform capitalism works.

Erosion of democracy

Social media could potentially be the place to critically engage in different opinions. Yet this potential is nipped in the bud, because social media are fundamentally guided by capitalist principles. Financial gain is valued above all else, even if it drives people apart and leads to feelings of grievance and rejection. These feelings can then be redirected towards migrants, foreigners, and other groups that ‘differ’. It can even lead to the erosion of democratic procedures, Joseph Vogl argues.

In his lecture, Joseph Vogl shows the ways in which social media and capital are intertwined, and how this transforms our economy and society. After his lecture, he discusses the social and political impact of platform capitalism with economist Ivan Boldyrev. Can the threat for our democratic society be overturned? And what actions would be needed to do so? Ethicist Mira Vegter moderates the discussion.

About the speakers

Joseph Vogl is a philosopher and Professor of Modern German Literature, Cultural and Media Studies at Humboldt-Universität in Berlin and Regular Visiting Professor and Princeton University. His research and teaching encompasses literature from the 18th to the 20th century, media and aesthetics, cultural and political theory. In his current research he focusses on the history of financial economy, literature and economics, and the “poetics of knowledge”. In 2022 his latest book Capital and Ressentiment was published.

Ivan Boldyrev is an economist and philosopher. He works as Assistant Professor of History and Philosophy of Economics at the Chair for Economic Theory and Policy at Radboud University. In his research, he focuses, among other things, on the ways economic ideas and theories matter for policies and for their broader contexts.

Mira Vegter is assistant professor of Ethics and Healthcare at IQhealthcare Radboudumc. She moderates the discussion.


Participation costs € 7,50 | RU employees, Alumni Benefits Card-holders pay € 5,-  | Students and pupils and Radboud Reflects-subscribers have free admittance.

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