Review of Jonathan Crary’s Book; 24/7Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep

by Sana Zainab, Hacettepe University, Gradate School of Social Sciences

J.Crary has analyzed that how capitalism is gradually manipulating our lives since last two centuries in the name of development. Collectively, this book highlights the expansion of continuous ongoing processing of twenty-first century capitalism. Non-stop working hours of market space, round the clock activities are disturbing the fabric of routine life. The author explores that how non-time cover up the differences between an intensified, ubiquitous consumerism and  rapidly emerging strategies of control and surveillance. The ongoing management of individual approach and the impairment of perception within the current technological culture is debatable.(Sadar et al, 11) It further explains human sleep as a restorative withdrawal which is completely incompatible with 24/7 capitalism. Additionally, this argumentative book narrates critical theory, namely that capitalism is re-orientating as well as altering the primary concept of time cycles and spinning is not just incidental but also intentional. While backing his points with the theories of Marx, Foucault, Deleuze, Debord, author has strengthened his argument.

Capitalism is defined as an economic system where private participants can freely possess and control the use of property according to their interests. (Scott, 01) End of sleep is the idea to overcome human limitations to go round the clock and control the sleep. (Jessa, 13) New media is manipulating our lives through it’s interactivity.  (Bagdikian et al, 7) So, 24/7 is actually expanding capitalism to round the clock without any disconnectivity. After robotic control; sleepless soldiers, consumers and workers are the main goals of capitalism. Though 24/7 markets and global infrastructure is already started but now all set to occupy human’s social and biological privileges as well. The idea of  non-stop and unlimited work is aligned with unaging, inanimate, or inert.  Sleep as an uncompromising interruption will always collide with the demands of 24/7.  Recent researches shows that the people who wake up once or more at night, to check their messages or data are rapidly increasing. It has been said that sleepless life will offer us more space to customize our lives, chance to live it to the fullest and to make it truly flexible. 24/7 is being fantasized as prosperity that emphasized the social existence for everyone more like an emergency. Though Marx mentioned natural barriers in the way of capitalism, but recent reforms are going to somehow overcome such limitations.

Author further explains that 24/7 operations of social networks are a gateway to timeless world. Though sleep is regarded as a private and subjective but at the same time, it’s dependent on the society and surroundings for sustainability. New kind of dangers created more insecurities regarding property, goods, business etc. But this era is hostile in that sense, you miss a moment means you miss a chance. In contrary to the older model of sovereign protection, vigilance and enervating watchfulness is promoted repeatedly in literature.  Social safe-guard is encouraged for carelessness of sleep but no one can promise that.

An overview of old civilizations reveals that they also made an effort to make an order-world while dividing times into days, weeks and months. The idea of 24/7 conceptualized that order-world to meet the demands of today’s life. Technological advancements made it possible to digitize every sphere of life and record it as archived. Wireless gadgets brought us to a non-stop era where you can do anything, anytime and anywhere like, Shopping, paying utility bills, managing bank accounts, working, earning, studying, learning, having fun, chatting with friends and connected with our lovedones etc. Online existence have everything to offer but at what cost? It’s actually externalization of an individual.

Nowadays, one’s social reality is defined by advancement rather than personal identity. That’s the reason digital personalization and self-admiration are flourished in even low-income groups. Increased sexual slavery, growing traffic of organs are profitably merged in Newmarket. Social networking sites allow user to have their own social reality and to define themselves the way they want. (Whittaker, 11) Attractive incitements, anxiety to be admired attach us to networks and devices.  The fear of falling behind,  being deemed outdated forced us to go with the flow. This continuous life isn’t actually chosen by us. It’s actually an imposed and inescapable uniformity to self management. The illusion of freedom of choice and being up to dated is foundation of global auto regulations.  Personalization is commodified in a depleted of complexity where identical mechanical operations are capable to manage your friends circles, business, bank accounts at the same time. The homogenization experience sounds to be very promising but authoritative in nature.

The critical point is that watchdogs are those technophilic intellectuals who are eager for media attention, in fact fame and rewards. Continued existence of Online corporates like Google, Apple and General Electric has already designed pattern of consumptions. Though Radio and television couldn’t cover all the notions of current media like; to be actively managed, manipulated, exchanged, reviewed, archived, recommended or followed.  At the moment, choice, actions and feedbacks are essential. (Mansel, 8)

It’s a historical debate that either there is another world? Yes, that is cyberspace who knows you more than yourself, train you and use your activities in most profitable way. Notably, communication and consumption is another demand of this 24/7 world that prepares you even for the things, you don’t even need. Additionally, in order to be more open-minded and indeterminate new media is serving online gambling, internet pornography and video gaming as well. Insomnia, depression, bipolar conditions, hyperactivity and various others are common in modified nervous system. The usage of stay awake drugs, painkillers, tranquilizers, amphetamines, psychoactive drugs are also indirectly synchronized with the influence of current communication reforms. Violence paved it’s way even into this 24/7 era, where anyone can troll you or bully you. Identity theft is another issue to be solved. Radical social transformation expands police agencies working field from real world to virtual space for actual inquiries.

This mechanism of 24/7 is managing our minds and bodies. But we permitted this control over ourselves.Now, we are being told; things to do, books, movies, destinations, brands, food, even people to follow. We accepted everything on the name of advancement, development with no complaints for toxic environment, privacy theft, psychological transformation and becoming proud prey of capitalism. User Genereated Content is also being used by big online corporates to earn and users are continuously contributing without the idea if they are part of economic circle. (Song et al, 04)

There is some significant and advanced anticipation of 24/7 temporalities in art which are adoptable and reformer. Both physical proximity spheres; natural and invented are also highlighted in art.  It sounds pretty interesting that continuity is an attribute of both art and 24/7. On the other side, if the first requirement of capitalism is dissolution of the relations to earth then current factory environment fulfills it. As the labor disconnects from family, community as well as other traditional interdependencies. Non-stop economic modernization  became persuasive. As capitalism by it’s nature drives beyond every limitation. World War II was the beginning of new paradigm of communication, information and control. and rise of neo-liberalism started after the launch of personal computer. Online emergence of people has been called as “Societies of control”. Where there are no-gaps, no disconnectivity, open spaces and time but to decline this continuity is not an option.(Mackay et al, 21)  Normalization of control societies transformed world capitalism.

In recent paradigm, corporate goal of Google, Facebook and other similar enterprises is unbroken engagement. At the same time, economy dissolved the distance between personal and professional, entertainment and information by inescapable 24/7. Eyeballs for site controls are center of interest to mechanizing and rationalizing human activity. Earlier, television encouraged people to non-nomadic lifestyle but wireless devices are switching it back again by the idea of, “Anywhere, anytime.” Although interactivity of new media is highly celebrated but it’s not simply interactive, it’s addictive.(Arora et al, 15) Addictiveness to unseen,  unthoughtful and thirst to know more, are core rewards of new media. This disconnectivity to real surroundings and connectivity to virtual world is seems to be an exciting practice.(O’keeffe et al, 20)

Literature and cinema also discussed human desire to be omnipresent. Though, death can’t let it happen. But while living, we can be omnipresent in cyberspace, to go sleepless, to live every moment of it with subjective freedom. Modern placelessness and mobility is an illusion to many critics and thinkers. As the idea is being discussed in recent fiction and some movies as destructive.  Aristotle wondered about dreams. Here, it’s under discussion that we may download our dreams in near future as images or videos and can we use them as other media content? Divergence of  human attributes and global system with the capacity to occupy every awake hour seems dated and inapt. Apparently, there is no actual harmonization between living beings and demands of 24/7.

We are being told to have online presence, 24/7 exposure to avoid social irrelevance or professional failure and it’s demand to go sleepless as well. Our unmentionable desires are also served well. Because they want us to be addicted, to be habitual of it, to change our social attitude for their marketing strategies, to get maximum eyeballs, to get more clicks, all that to earn more.  Author mentioned that soon technology will enable us to digitally download our brains and later dreams as media content. It might be expected to sell sleeping hours if not fully adaptation of sleeplessness, and to have advertisement in dreams in return of money. Man polluted water with industrial toxic chemicals and then set up filtration plant for drinking water to make money in the name of fulfilling a basic need. Not everyone can buy filtered drinking water. Similar to this, technological shift is snatching sleep gradually and that time isn’t far when it will become luxury, whenever we would like to take a break from the continuity of 24/7, we will buy sleeping pills/drugs and miss those working hours. Though, almost everyone is going to lose sleep in the name of advancement, but it’s assumed that not everyone will have luxury to afford it again.

Is 24/7 Late Capitalism and End of Sleep is real development? No, in my opinion, it’s another type of slavery. When you are bound to adopt the mainstream preferences. Where you are being told of “Do’s and Don’ts” of lifestyle that steals your freedom and privacy at the same time. Otherwise, you are misfit, outdated or backward. Though, we are in transitional phase, infinity of accessible content make sure our online presence to be surprised, entertained, impressed, to comment or to be diverted. By the appropriation of public spaces into the logic of marketplace, and the idea to follow majority is questionable. It’s very interesting that before humans made robots to assist humans, now we are going to make robotic humans to assist robotic expected activities. Humans are controlled by anti-social apparatus that leads to continuation. Willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly, we are gradually becoming part of globalist neoliberal paradigm where sleeping is for losers. In conclusion, this hybrid genre is an academic exciting piece with enough information to understand monopoly of capitalism through new media.


Arora, Shivani, and Daniel Okunbor. “Social media applications: Are the youth addicted?” 2015 International Conference on Cyberspace (CYBER-Abuja) (2015): n. pag. Web.

Bagdikian, Ben H., and Ben H. Bagdikian. The new media monopoly. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004. Print.

Gamble, Jessa. “The end of sleep?” Aeon. N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.

Herman, Edward S, and Robert Waterman McChesney. Global media: the new missionaries of global capitalism. London: Cassell, 1997. Print.

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. New York: New York U Press, 2006. Print.

Mackay, Hugh, and Tim O’Sullivan. The media reader: continuity and transformation. London: Sage Publications, 1999. Print.

Mansell, R. “Political Economy, Power and New Media.” New Media & Society 6.1 (2004): 96-105. Web.

O’keeffe, G. S., and K. Clarke-Pearson. “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.” Pediatrics 127.4 (2011): 800-04. Web.

Sadar, John Stanislav. “24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep.” Architectural Theory Review 20.2 (2015): 287-90. Web.

Scott, Bruce R. “Capitalism.” (2011): n. pag. Web.

Shochat, Tamar, Ofra Flint-Bretler, and Orna Tzischinsky. “Sleep patterns, electronic media exposure and daytime sleep-related behaviors among Israeli adolescents.” Acta Paediatrica 99.9 (2010): 1396-400. Web.

Song, Indeok, Robert Larose, Matthew S. Eastin, and Carolyn A. Lin. “Internet Gratifications and Internet Addiction: On the Uses and Abuses of New Media.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 7.4 (2004): 384-94. Web.

Whittaker, Lisa, and Alex Gillespie. “Social Networking Sites: Mediating the Self and its Communities.” Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 23.6 (2013): 492-504. Web


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