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The Digital Commons and the Digital Public Sphere: How to Advance Digital Democracy Today

A Research Paper by Christian Fuchs, published by Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture

This paper asks: what are the democratic potentials of the digital commons and the digital public sphere? First, the article identifies ten problems of digital capitalism. Second, it engages with the notion of the digital public sphere. Third, it outlines the concept of the digital commons. Fourth, some conclusions are drawn and ten suggestions for advancing digital democracy are presented.This article contributes to theorising and the analysis of digital capitalism, Internet platforms, the digital public sphere, the digital commons, digital democracy, public service Internet platforms, civil society/community Internet platforms, platform co-operatives, open access, corporate/capitalist open access, and diamond open access.This work also outlines ten problems of digital capitalism as well as ten principles of digital progressivism, a politics that advances the public sphere and the commons and thereby (digital) democracy in society.There are natural, economic, political, and cultural dimensions of the commons and the digital commons. Capitalism, public service, and civil society media/community media/cooperatives are three forms of organisation and governing the Internet and digital media/technologies. Capitalism colonises and commodifies the (digital) commons and the (digital) public sphere. Alternative models are located outside of capitalism in the realms of the public sphere and civil society as well as their interactions.

Keywords: digital commons, digital public sphere, digital capitalism, public service media, public service Internet platforms, platform cooperatives, platfrom cooperativism

How to Cite: Fuchs C., (2021) “The Digital Commons and the Digital Public Sphere: How to Advance Digital Democracy Today”, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture 16(1). p.9-26. doi: https://doi.org/10.16997/wpcc.917

Christian Fuchs


Christian Fuchs is Professor at, and the Director of, the Communication and Media Research Institute. He is also Director of the Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies.

His fields of expertise are critical digital & social media studies, Internet & society, political economy of media and communication, information society theory, social theory and critical theory.


21 March 2021
Published By
Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture
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