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
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
The United States presents the greatest source of global geo-political violence and instability. Guided by the radical political economy tradition, this book offers an analysis of the USA’s historical impulse to weaponize communication technologies.
Scott Timcke explores the foundations of this impulse and how the militarization of digital society creates structural injustices and social inequalities. He analyses how new digital communication technologies support American paramountcy and conditions for worldwide capital accumulation. Identifying selected features of contemporary American society, Capital, State, Empire undertakes a materialist critique of this digital society and of the New American Way of War. At the same time it demonstrates how the American security state represses activists—such as Black Lives Matter—who resist this emerging security leviathan. The book also critiques the digital positivism behind the algorithmic regulation used to control labour and further diminish prospects for human flourishing for the ‘99%’.
Capital, State, Empire contributes to a broader understanding of the dynamics of global capitalism and political power in the early 21st century.Book Details
Knowledge in the Age of Digital Capitalism proposes a new critical theory concerning the functioning of capitalism and how we consider knowledge and information. This ambitious book systematically and lucidly introduces contemporary phenomena into the framework of cognitive materialism to address some of the great themes of the social sciences: knowledge, exploitation and social class in an account of capitalism's totality in the present day. Author Mariano Zukerfeld reinvigorates materialist study of communications, presenting a typology of knowledge to explain the underlying material forms of information, intellectual property and cognitive work in contemporary societies. Using current examples the book also examines concerns such as free labour and the pivotal role of intellectual property. The book offers nothing less than an introduction to the theory of cognitive materialism and an account of the entirety of the digital (or knowledge) capitalism of our time.Book Details
This book contributes to the foundations of a critical theory of communication as shaped by the forces of digital capitalism. One of the world's leading theorists of digital media Professor Christian Fuchs explores how the thought of some of the Frankfurt School’s key thinkers can be deployed for critically understanding media in the age of the Internet. Five essays that form the heart of this book review aspects of the works of Georg Lukács, Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Axel Honneth and Jürgen Habermas and apply them as elements of a critical theory of communication's foundations. The approach taken starts from Georg Lukács Ontology of Social Being, draws on the work of the Frankfurt School thinkers, and sets them into dialogue with the Cultural Materialism of Raymond Williams.
Critical Theory of Communication offers a vital set of new insights on how communication operates in the age of information, digital media and social media, arguing that we need to transcend the communication theory of Habermas by establishing a dialectical and cultural-materialist critical theory of communication.
It is the first title in a major new book series 'Critical Digital and Social Media Studies' published by the University of Westminster Press.