Matrix Lecture

The Problem of Trust in the Digital Public Sphere


On February 24, 2022, Matrix was honored to host William Davies, Professor of Political Economy at Goldsmiths, University of London, for a Matrix Distinguished Lecture.

In the lecture, Davies explores how the digitization of our public sphere has made trust harder to establish, as the ideal of “facts” has been challenged by that of “real-time data,” and consequently altered the forms of allegiance, organization, and political coalitions that are possible.

Drawing on his recent books, Nervous States: Democracy and the Decline of Reason and This Is Not Normal: The Collapse of Liberal Britain, Davies identifies pivotal ways in which liberal visions of the public sphere have been damaged, and what kinds of alternatives take their place. “I want to consider the implications of a shift from a society that at least in its self-image or ideology privileges facts as bearers of truth to one that in its self-image or ideology privileges data as the bearers of truth,” Davies explained.

Davies is the author of The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition, The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold us Well-Being, and Unprecedented?How COVID-19 Revealed the Politics of Our Economy. He writes regularly for The Guardian and The London Review of Books.

The event was co-sponsored by the UC Berkeley Institute of European Studies, the Network for a New Political Economy (N2PE), and the Center for British Studies.

Watch the video above or on YouTube.


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