New Book: Reconsidering Value and Labour in the Digital Age
This new book, edited by Christian Fuchs and Eran Fisher explores the labour theory of value is one of the core tenets of Marx’s theory of historical materialism, and of his understanding of capitalism. It is the theory that connects value to class structure, and that unveils the exploitative social relations that lay behind prices of commodities. It is therefore obvious why contemporary scholars interested in Marxian theory would be keen on finding out to what extent Marx’s categories still stand and to what extent they need to be modified to reflect contemporary realities.
Stating that the source of capital, and the motor for its accumulation, is labour, and labour only, the labour theory of value is of continued contemporary interest to Marxian theorists. They seek to unveil new modes by which labour is organised and subsumed to the control of capital under the new realities of peer production, free social media, the commodification of life itself, the emergence of playbour, and many other empirical realities of contemporary digital capitalism. In Reconsidering Value and Labour in the Digital Age, these themes are explored across a range of insightful and current scholarly contributions.
Eran Fisher is a Senior Lecturer at the department of Sociology, Political Science, and Communication at the Open University of Israel. His work has appeared in The European Journal of Social Theory, Media, Culture and Society, and Information, Communication, and Society. His books include Media and New Capitalism in the Digital Age: The Spirit of Network (2010, Palgrave) and Internet and Emotions (co-edited in 2014).
Christian Fuchs is a Professor at the University of Westminster, UK, and Director of the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI). He is editor of the journal tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique and author of many books such as Reading Marx in the Information Age: A Media and Communication Studies Perspective on Capital Volume 1 (2016), Culture and Economy in the Age of Social Media (2015), Social Media: A Critical Introduction (2014), Digital Labour and Karl Marx (2014), Foundations of Critical Media and Information Studies (2011) and Internet and Society (2008).
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Value and Labour in the Digital Age
Christian Fuchs and Eran Fisher
2. The Digital Labour Theory of Value and Karl Marx in the Age of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Weibo
[a video of C. Fuchs’ talk at the Israel-workshop, whose outcome this book is, can be seen here. It is related to the books Digital Labour and Karl Marx & Culture and Economy in the Age of Social Media]
3. The Hands and Brains of Digital Culture. Arguments for an Inclusive Approach to Cultural Labour
PART I: LABOUR AND CLASS
4. A Contribution to a Critique of the Concept Playbour
5. Marx in Chinese Online Space: Some Thoughts on the Labour Problem in Chinese Internet industries
PART II: THE LABOUR OF INTERNET USERS
6. The Exploitation of Audience Labour: A Missing Perspective on Communication and Capital in the Digital Era
7. Audience Labour on Social Media: Learning from Sponsored Stories
8. Advertising on Social Media: The Reality behind the Ideology of ‘Free Access’. The Case of Chinese Social Media Platforms Yuqi Na
PART III: RENT AND THE COMMONS
9. Mapping Approaches to User Participation and Digital Labour: A Critical Perspective
Thomas Allmer, Sebastian Sevignani, Jernej Prodnik
10. Is the Concept of Rent Relevant to a Discussion of Surplus Value in the Digital World?
11. The Demise of the Marxian Law of Value? A Critique of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
PART IV: PRODUCTIVITY IN REPRODUCTION
12. Devaluing Binaries: Marxist Feminism and the Value of Consumer Labour
13. The Concept of the Subsumption of Labour under Capital: Life Subsumption in Cognitive-Biocapitalism
14. Form-Giving Fire: Creative Industries as Marx’s ‘Work of Combustion’ and the Distinction between Productive and Unproductive Labour
Frederick H. Pitts
This book documents the results of the workshop “Marx’s Labour Theory of Value in the Digital Age” that took place from June 15–17, 2014, at the Open University of Israel. It was co-organized by the two of us with financial support from the COST Action “Dynamics of Virtual Work” (see: http://dynamicsofvirtualwork.com) and hosted by the Open University of Israel’s Department of Sociology, Political Science and Communication that also provided additional financial support.