New Article in Communication Theory

Professor Malin’s article, “Communicating with Objects: Ontology, Object-Orientations, and the Politics of Communication,” was published in the August 2016 volume of Communication Theory.  The article offers a critique of the recent turn to objects as illustrated by Object Oriented Ontology and similar approaches.  It begins with a discussion of Alexander Galloway’s claims that object-oriented thought is inherently neoliberal, reinforcing Galloway’s position while using his work to demonstrate some shortcomings of ontological thinking in contemporary media and cultural studies. Building on this response, the article argues that the problems of object-oriented thought have less to do with its dismissal of politics than with its problematic conception of objects themselves. In their strict avoidance of “the social,” object-oriented thinkers ignore fundamentally important features of objects in general and media objects in particular. The article concludes with suggestions toward an onto-materialist theory of objects that seeks to understand how political economic and other broadly social matter are ontologized in objects.  An earlier version of this essay won the top paper award in the Philosophy of Communication at the 2015 meeting of the National Communication Association.