The concept of ‘the commons’ has been used as a framework to understand resources shared by a community rather than a private entity, and it has also inspired social movements working against the enclosure of public goods and resources. One such resource is free (libre) and open source software (FLOSS). FLOSS emerged as an alternative to proprietary software in the 1980s. However, both the products and production processes of FLOSS have become incorporated into capitalist production. For example, Red Hat, Inc. is a large publicly traded company whose business model relies entirely on free software, and IBM, Intel, Cisco, Samsung, Google are some of the largest contributors to Linux, the open-source operating system. This book explores the ways in which FLOSS has been incorporated into digital capitalism. Just as the commons have been used as a motivational frame for radical social movements, it has also served the interests of free-marketeers, corporate libertarians, and states to expand their reach by dragging the shared resources of social life onto digital platforms so they can be integrated into the global capitalist system.
The book concludes by asserting the need for a critical political economic understanding of the commons that foregrounds (digital) labour, class struggle, and uneven power distribution within the digital commons as well as between FLOSS communities and their corporate sponsors.Book Details
David Harvey’s The Condition of Postmodernity rationalised capitalism’s transformation during an extraordinary year: 1989. It gave theoretical expression to a material and cultural reality that was just then getting properly started – globalisation and postmodernity – whilst highlighting the geo-spatial limits to accumulation imposed by our planet.
However this landmark publication, author Robert Hassan argues, did not address the arrival of digital technology, the quantum leap represented by the move from an analogue world to a digital economy and the rapid creation of a global networked society. Considering first the contexts of 1989 and Harvey’s work, then the idea of humans as analogue beings he argues this arising new human condition of digitality leads to alienation not only from technology but also the environment. This condition he suggests, is not an ideology of time and space but a reality stressing that Harvey’s time-space compression takes on new features including those of ‘outward’ and ‘inward’ globalisation and the commodification of all spheres of existence.
Lastly the author considers culture’s role drawing on Rahel Jaeggi’s theories to make the case for a post-modern Marxism attuned to the most significant issue of our age. Stimulating and theoretically wide-ranging The Condition of Digitality recognises post-modernity’s radical new form as a reality and the urgent need to assert more democratic control over digitality.Book Details
This new book analyses the strategies, usages and wider implications of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding platforms in the culture and communication industries that are reshaping economic, organizational and social logics. Platforms are the object of considerable hype with a growing global presence. Relying on individual contributions coordinated by social media to finance cultural production (and carry out promotional tasks) is a significant shift, especially when supported by morphing public policies, supposedly enhancing cultural diversity and accessibility.
The aim of this book is to propose a critical analysis of these phenomena by questioning what follows from decisions to outsource modes of creation and funding to consumers. Drawing on research carried out within the ‘Collab’ programme backed by the French National Research Agency, the book considers how platforms are used to organize cultural labour and/or to control usages, following a logic of suggestion rather than overt injunction. Four key areas are considered: the history of crowdfunding as a system; whose interests crowdfunding may serve; the implications for digital labour and lastly crowdfunding’s interface with globalization and contemporary capitalism. The book concludes with an assessment of claims that crowdfunding can democratize culture.Book Details
Are financial crises embedded in IT? Can gender studies offer insights into financial reporting? Feminist theories and Science and Technology Studies (STS) can enrich a critique of financial crises in capitalism as the author argues their critical, political economic approaches to communication can help in understanding because they historicize technology and economy and how these are materially embedded. Current literature has neglected finance and capital’s gendered aspect – even – the ideology of a ‘crisis’. This book develops four themes: women as resources in financial markets and as producers of values; gender ideology and unequal distribution; machine production and distribution of financial information and the varied actuality of markets. Working with case histories of tulipmania, microcredit, Wall Street reporting and the role of ‘screens’, Bubbles and Machines argues that rather than calling financial crises human-made or inevitable they should be recognized as technological.Book Details
Not since Marx identified the manufacturing plants of Manchester as the blueprint for the new capitalist society has there been a more profound transformation of the fundamentals of our social life. As capitalism faces a series of structural crises, a new social, political and economic dynamic is emerging: peer to peer.
What is peer to peer? Why is it essential for building a commons-centric future? How could this happen? These are the questions this book tries to answer. Peer to peer is a type of social relations in human networks, as well as a technological infrastructure that makes the generalization and scaling up of such relations possible. Thus, peer to peer enables a new mode of production and creates the potential for a transition to a commons-oriented economy.Book Details
After President Trump’s election, BREXIT and the widespread rise of far-Right political parties, much public discussion has intensely focused on populism and authoritarianism. In the middle of the twentieth century, members of the early Frankfurt School prolifically studied and theorized fascism and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States. In this volume, leading European and American scholars apply insights from the early Frankfurt School to present-day authoritarian populism, including the Trump phenomenon and related developments across the globe. Chapters are arranged into three sections exploring different aspects of the topic: theories, historical foundations, and manifestations via social media. Contributions examine the vital political, psychological and anthropological theories of early Frankfurt School thinkers, and how their insights could be applied now amidst the insecurities and confusions of twenty-first century life. The many theorists considered include Adorno, Fromm, Löwenthal and Marcuse, alongside analysis of Austrian Facebook pages and Trump’s tweets and operatic media drama. This book is a major contribution towards deeper understanding of populism’s resurgence in the age of digital capitalism.Book Details
While the individual elements of the propaganda system (or filters) identified by the Propaganda Model (PM) – ownership, advertising, sources, flak and anti-communism – have previously been the focus of much scholarly attention, their systematisation in a model, empirical corroboration and historicisation have made the PM a useful tool for media analysis across cultural and geographical boundaries.
Despite the wealth of scholarly research Herman and Chomsky’s work has set into motion over the past decades, the PM has been subjected to marginalisation, poorly informed critiques and misrepresentations. Interestingly, while the PM enables researchers to form discerning predictions as regards corporate media performance, Herman and Chomsky had further predicted that the PM itself would meet with such marginalisation and contempt.
In current theoretical and empirical studies of mass media performance, uses of the PM continue, nonetheless, to yield important insights into the workings of political and economic power in society, due in large measure to the model’s considerable explanatory power.Book Details
What is ‘social capital’? The enormous positivity surrounding it conceals the instrumental economic rationality underpinning the notion as corporations silently sell consumer data for profit. Status chasing is just one aspect of a process of transforming qualitative aspects of social interactions into quantifiable metrics for easier processing, prediction, and behavioural shaping.
A work of critical media studies, Social Capital Online examines the idea within the new ‘network spectacle’ of digital capitalism via the ideas of Marx, Veblen, Debord, Baudrillard and Deleuze. Explaining how such phenomena as online narcissism and aggression arise, Faucher offers a new theoretical understanding of how the spectacularisation of online activity perfectly aligns with the value system of neoliberalism and its data worship. Even so, at the centre of all, lie familiar ideas – alienation and accumulation – new conceptions of which he argues are vital for understanding today’s digital society.Book Details
This book highlights that the capacity for gathering, analysing, and utilising vast amounts of digital (user) data raises significant ethical issues. Annika Richterich provides a systematic contemporary overview of the field of critical data studies that reflects on practices of digital data collection and analysis. The book assesses in detail one big data research area: biomedical studies, focused on epidemiological surveillance. Specific case studies explore how big data have been used in academic work.
The Big Data Agenda concludes that the use of big data in research urgently needs to be considered from the vantage point of ethics and social justice. Drawing upon discourse ethics and critical data studies, Richterich argues that entanglements between big data research and technology/ internet corporations have emerged. In consequence, more opportunities for discussing and negotiating emerging research practices and their implications for societal values are needed.
An electronic version of this book is freely available, thanks to the support of libraries working with Knowledge Unlatched. KU is a collaborative initiative designed to make high quality books Open Access for the public good. More information about the initiative and details about KU's Open Access programme can be found at www.knowledgeunlatched.org.Book Details
Spectacle 2.0 recasts Debord's theory of spectacle within the frame of 21st century digital capitalism. It offers a reassessment of Debord’s original notion of Spectacle from the late 1960s, of its posterior revisitation in the 1990s, and it presents a reinterpretation of the concept within the scenario of contemporary informational capitalism and more specifically of digital and media labour. It is argued that the Spectacle 2.0 form operates as the interactive network that links through one singular (but contradictory) language and various imaginaries, uniting diverse productive contexts such as logistics, finance, new media and urbanism. Spectacle 2.0 thus colonizes most spheres of social life by processes of commodification, exploitation and reification. Diverse contributors consider the topic within the book’s two main sections: Part I conceptualizes and historicizes the Spectacle in the context of informational capitalism; contributions in Part II offer empirical cases that historicise the Spectacle in relation to the present (and recent past) showing how a Spectacle 2.0 approach can illuminate and deconstruct specific aspects of contemporary social reality. All contributions included in this book rework the category of the Spectacle to present a stimulating compendium of theoretical critical literature in the fields of media and labour studies. In the era of the gig-economy, highly mediated content and President Trump, Debord’s concept is arguably more relevant than ever.Book Details