Capitalizing on Knowledge: Mapping Intersections Between Cognitive Capitalism and Education

  • Joseph Paul Cunningham University of Cincinnati
Keywords: Marxism, Critical Theory, Cognitive Capitalism


Cognitive capitalism represents an extension of capitalism that involves the valorization of knowledge and knowledge labor. With the university as a crucial site of knowledge work, the implications of cognitive capitalism become of great significance. This essay functions as a critical way of understanding cognitive capitalism for educators. First utilizing Marxist theory, the origins of cognitive capitalism are examined as the social nature of capital enables the valorization of cognitive labor. Afterward, pertinent features of cognitive capitalism are discussed, particularly how cognitive capitalism functions in contemporary capitalism and how the production of knowledge commodities supplants non-commodified forms of knowledge. This discussion leads to an analysis of the relation between cognitive capitalism and education where education recast as a commodified process holds problematic implications for the work educators perform and their relationships with students.

Author Biography

Joseph Paul Cunningham, University of Cincinnati
English Department
Adjunct Professor
Writing Center Coordinator