This book explores the potential creation of a broader collaborative economy through commons-based peer production (P2P) and the emergent role of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The book seeks to critically engage in the political discussion of commons-based peer production, which can be classified into three basic arguments: the liberal, the reformist and the anti-capitalist. This book categorises the liberal argument as being in favour of the coexistence of the commons with the market and the state. Reformists, on the other hand, advocate for the gradual adjustment of the state and of capitalism to the commons, while anti-capitalists situate the commons against capitalism and the state. By discussing these three viewpoints, the book contributes to contemporary debates concerning the future of commons-based peer production.
Further, the author argues that for the commons to become a fully operational mode of peer production, it needs to reach critical mass arguing that the liberal argument underestimates the reformist insight that technology has the potential to decentralise production, thereby forcing capitalism to transition to post-capitalism. Surveying the three main strands of commons-based peer production, this book makes the case for a post-capitalist commons-orientated transition that moves beyond neoliberalism.Book Details
This book explores the fundamental contradiction at the heart of the digital environment: technology offers all manner of promises, yet habitually fails to deliver. This failure often arises from numerous problems: the proficiency of the technology or end-user, policy failure at various levels, or a combination of these. Solutions such as better technology and more effective end-user education are often put into place to solve these failures.
Mike Healy argues that such approaches are inherently faulty drawing upon qualitative research informed by Marx’s theory of alienation. Using Marx’s theory, he considers participants in three distinct settings: the workplace of information and communications technology (ICT) professionals; university scholars researching the ethical and societal implications of our digital environment; and a group of pensioners living in South London, UK, undertaking ICT training. By delving beneath the surface of how digital technologies are created, researched and experienced, this study illustrates the contradictory nature of our digital lives, as they directly arise from the needs of capitalism.
The book also places Marx’s theory in contrast to the mainstream approaches derived from Seaman and Blauner. In researching and comprehending ICT, this book reaffirms the superior explanatory power of Marx’s theory of alienation.Book Details
‘An authoritative analysis of the role of communication in contemporary capitalism and an important contribution to debates about the forms of domination and potentials for liberation in today’s capitalist society.’ — Professor Michael Hardt, Duke University, co-author of the tetralogy Empire, Commonwealth, Multitude, and Assembly
‘A comprehensive approach to understanding and transcending the deepening crisis of communicative capitalism. It is a major work of synthesis and essential reading for anyone wanting to know what critical analysis is and why we need it now more than ever.’ — Professor Graham Murdock, Emeritus Professor, University of Loughborough and co-editor of The Handbook of Political Economy of Communications
Communication and Capitalism outlines foundations of a critical theory of communication. Going beyond Jürgen Habermas’ theory of communicative action, Christian Fuchs outlines a communicative materialism that is a critical, dialectical, humanist approach to theorising communication in society and in capitalism. The book renews Marxist Humanism as a critical theory perspective on communication and society.
The author theorises communication and society by engaging with the dialectic, materialism, society, work, labour, technology, the means of communication as means of production, capitalism, class, the public sphere, alienation, ideology, nationalism, racism, authoritarianism, fascism, patriarchy, globalisation, the new imperialism, the commons, love, death, metaphysics, religion, critique, social and class struggles, praxis, and socialism.
Fuchs renews the engagement with the questions of what it means to be a human and a humanist today and what dangers humanity faces today.Book Details
‘The Internet is broken and Paolo Bory knows how we got here. In a powerful book based on original research, Bory carefully documents the myths, imaginaries, and ideologies that shaped the material and cultural history of the Internet. As important as this book is to understand our shattered digital world, it is essential for those who would fix it.’ — Vincent Mosco, author of The Smart City in a Digital World
The Internet Myth retraces and challenges the myth laying at the foundations of the network ideologies – the idea that networks, by themselves, are the main agents of social, economic, political and cultural change. By comparing and integrating different sources related to network histories, this book emphasizes how a dominant narrative has extensively contributed to the construction of the Internet myth while other visions of the networked society have been erased from the collective imaginary. The book decodes, analyzes and challenges the foundations of the network ideologies looking at how networks have been imagined, designed and promoted during the crucial phase of the 1990s.
Three case studies are scrutinized so as to reveal the complexity of network imaginaries in this decade: the birth of the Web and the mythopoesis of its inventor; and the histories of two Italian networking projects, the infrastructural plan Socrate and the civic network Iperbole, the first to give free Internet access to citizens.
The Internet Myth thereby provides a compelling and hidden sociohistorical narrative in order to challenge one of the most powerful myths of our time.Book Details
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