Refocusing Zuboff’s ‘division of learning’ on education

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This paper examines the concept of the ‘division of learning’ (Zuboff 2019), and the broader thesis of ‘surveillance capitalism’ within which it is situated, in terms of its relevance to education. It begins with defining the term, before suggesting two key ways in which aligning the ‘division of learning’ with perspectives from educational research provides productive insights. The first considers the impact of increasing ‘datafication’ in education, where platform technologies are proliferating as powerful actors that both mediate and shape educational activity. Here the ‘division of learning’ offers useful insights concerning the disparities resulting from learning in and learning from educational platforms. The second explores the extent to which education theory might offer ways to develop the concept of the ‘division of learning’, through critique of the term ‘learning’ itself, as well as the foregrounding of questions of educational ‘purpose’. Here the ‘division of learning’ is suggested to maintain, rather than challenge, the dominant practices of data exploitation, for which further engagement with a purposive, political, and emancipatory form of ‘data science’ is suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2021


  • 'division of learning'
  • 'surveillance capitalism'
  • datafication
  • platformisation
  • learnification
  • education


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