Developing the ‘Control Imaginary’: TIME Magazine’s Symbolic Construction of Digital Technologies
This article discusses the shifting representations of control over and via ICTs on the cover of TIME magazine (1950‒2017). We focus on the subject positions and forms of agency the magazine ascribes to different social actors and on the solutions advanced for remaining in control of technological change. Informed by discourse analysis methodology, our analysis of the corpus (N = 81 covers) identifies four central themes: the configuration of the relationship between humanity and technology; the construction of youth as both potentially powerful and vulnerable “others”; the identification of technocapitalists and creative visionaries as the ultimately powerful drivers of innovation and progress; and the disruptive effects of virtuality. Through these discourses, the magazine legitimizes an entrepreneurial approach to ICTs as the means to retain agency against the “inevitable” technological development, while also positioning the technocapitalist elite as the drivers of our common future.