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Social Media

Now more than ever, we need to understand social media - the good as well as the bad. We need critical knowledge that helps us to navigate the controversies and contradictions of this complex digital media landscape. Only then can we make informed judgements about what's happening in our media world, and why. Showing the reader how to ask the right kinds of questions about social media, Christian Fuchs takes us on a journey across social media, delving deep into case studies on Google, Facebook, Twitter, WikiLeaks and Wikipedia. The result lays bare the structures and power relations at the heart of our media landscape. This book is the essential, critical guide for all students of media studies and sociology. Readers will never look at social media the same way again.
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Table of Contents

1. What is a Critical Introduction to Social Media? Social Media and the Arab Spring Social Media and the Occupy Movement Unpaid Work for the Huffington Post 1.1. What is Social about Social Media? Information and Cognition Communication Community Collaboration and Cooperative Work Information, Communication, Collaboration and Community Are Forms of Sociality. But What is Now Social About Facebook? 1.2. What is Critical Thinking and Why Does it Matter? Power Asking Critical Questions about Social Media and the Arab Spring Asking Critical Questions about Social Media and the Occupy Movement Asking Critical Questions about Unpaid Work for the Huffington Post 1.3. What is Critical Theory? You Want Me to Read Karl Marx? Are You Nuts? Why the Hell Should I Do That? So, You Tell Me That Marx Invented the Internet? How Can One Define Critical Theory? 1) Critical Theory Has a Normative Dimension 2) Critical Theory is a Critique of Domination and Exploitation 3) Critical Theory Uses Dialectical Reasoning as a Method of Analysis 4) Critical Theory is Connected to Struggles for a Just and Fair Society, it is an Intellectual Dimension of Struggles 5) Ideology Critique: Critical Theory is a Critique of Ideology 6) Critical Theory is a Critique of the Political Economy 1.4. Critical Theory Approaches The Frankfurt School - Not a Sausage, But a Critical Theory! Critical Political Economy of Media and Communication - Studying the Media and Communication Critically Critical Political Economy and the Frankfurt School are two Critical Theories. But do we really need two of them? Critical Theory and Critique of the Political Economy of Social MediaPART ONE: FOUNDATIONS2. What is Social Media? 2.1. Web 2.0 and Social Media Web 2.0 Critiques of Web 2.0 and Social Media Optimism How New are Social Media? 2.2. The Need of Social Theory for Understanding Social Media Definitions of Web 2.0 and Social Media Media and Social Theory Emile Durkheim: The Social as Social Facts Max Weber: The Social as Social Relations Ferdinand Toennies: The Social as Community Karl Marx: The Social as Cooperative Work 2.3. Explaining Social Media with Durkheim, Weber, Marx and Toennies A Model of Human Sociality Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0 Empirically Studying Changes of the Web3. Social Media as Participatory Culture 3.1. The Notion of Participation and Participatory Culture Social Media as Spreadable Media Participatory Culture Participatory Democracy Ignoring Ownership, Capitalism and Class: Cultural and Political Reductionism White Boys with "Participatory" Toys 3.2. Online Fan Culture and Politics Fan Culture as Politics? Is Online Fascism Participatory Culture? 3.3. Social Media and Participatory Culture Social Media Capitalism YouTube Blogs 3.4. Henry Jenkins and Digital Labour Dallas Smythe, Digital Labour and Henry Jenkins Social Media and Fans, Fans, Fans - Did Occupy, the Arab Spring and WikiLeaks Never Happen?4. Social Media and Communication Power 4.1. Social Theory in the Information Age What is Social Theory? Castells: Social Theorist of the Internet in the Information Society? 4.2. Communication Power in the Network Society Castells on Power: An Essential Feature of All Societies? Communication Power and Technocratic Language 4.3. Communication Power, Social Media and Mass Self-Communication Mass Self-Communication Autonomy Power and Counterpower on the Internet and Social Media Media Power as Cultural Power: John B Thompson Media Power as Multidimensional Form of Economic, Political and Cultural Power The Asymmetric Dialectic of Media Power The Stratified Online Sphere Web 2.0 and 3.0 4.4. Communication Power in the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement 2011: The Year of the Rebirth of History and Dangerous Dreaming The Arab Spring and Occupy Twitter and Facebook Revolutions? Castells Falsified: Empirical Research on the Role of the Media in Social Movements Jeffrey Juris, Paolo Gerbaudo and Miriyam Aouragh: For or against Castells?PART TWO: APPLICATIONS5. The Power and Political Economy of Social Media 5.1. Social Media as Ideology: The Limits of the Participatory Social Media Hypothesis Social Media: Participation as Ideology The Limits of YouTube The Limits of Facebook The Limits of Google The Limits of Twitter The Corporate Colonization of Social Media 5.2. The Cycle of Capital Accumulation 5.3. Capital Accumulation and Social Media Relative Surplus Value Prosumption Dallas Smythe, the Audience Commodity and Internet Prosumer Commodification Prosumer Surveillance Panoptic Sorting of Internet Prosumers Capital Accumulation on Corporate Social Media The Profit Rate and Social Media The Rate of Exploitation and Social Media Value and Social Media Information - A Peculiar Good Social Media Work The Social Media Prosumer Commodity's Price The Law of Value on Social Media Possible Breakdown and Alternatives 5.4. Free Labour and Slave Labour The Social Factory The Social Factory Online The iSlave behind the iPhone The Joy of the Phone and Computer in the West is the Blood and Sweat of Africans and Asians The Knowledge Labour Aristocracy The Internet as Division of Labour6. Google. Good or Evil Search Engine? 6.1. Introduction The Ubiquity of Google The Uncritical Celebration of Google Scepticism towards Google 6.2. Google's Political Economy Google's Economic Power Google and the Capitalist Crisis The Wealth and Power of Google's Owners How Google Accumulates Capital Google as a Surveillance Machine A Model of Society for Understanding Data Stored By Google A Typology of the Data Google Monitors and Commodifies 6.3. Googology: Google and Ideology The Ideology of the 20% Rule Biopolitical Exploitation Evgeny Morozov: Internet Solutionism Ideologies Online: Internet Fetishism and Technological Online Rationality Oscar Gandy: Rational Discrimination and Cumulative Disadvantage Internet Fetishism and the Global Crisis Stuart Hall Revisited: The Internet as Ideological Culture of Control The Ideology of Google's Privacy Policy Google DoubleClick Google+: Google and Social Networking Sites The EU's Data Protection Regulation Google's 2012 Privacy Policy Sensitive Personal Data Complex Terms of Use 6.4. Work at Google Work at Google: Fun and Good Food? The Reality of Work at Google: Working Long Hours Working Long Hours? Never Mind, Just Sleep Under Your Desk, as Former Google Vice-President Marissa Mayer Does... 6.5. Google: God and Satan in One Company Marx and the Antagonism Between Productive Forces and Relations of Production Google in and Beyond Capitalism 6.6. Conclusion Recommended Readings and Exercises7. Facebook. A Surveillance Threat to Privacy? 7.1. Facebook's Financial Power Facebook's Profits 2012: Facebook's Decreasing Profits and Increasing Revenues 7.2. The Notion of Privacy Different Definitions of Privacy Criticisms of Privacy Privacy: A Bourgeois Value? Privacy and Surveillance An Alternative Notion of Privacy 7.3. Facebook and Ideology Like as Facebook Ideology: "I Like Auschwitz" The Liberal Fetishism of Privacy Privacy Fetishism in Research about Facebook 7.4. Privacy and the Political Economy of Facebook Privacy and Private Property 7.4.1. Facebook's Privacy Policy Critical Discourse Analysis Self-Regulation Privacy Policy Unambiguous Consent? Opt-out? Targeted Advertising Instant Personalization 7.4.2. Exploitation on Facebook Commodification and Digital Labour on Facebook Surveillance and Privacy Violations on Facebook The Private on Facebook: Private Ownership 7.5. Conclusion Facebook: Ideology and Political Economy Diaspora*: An Alternative to Facebook?8. Twitter. A New Public Sphere? 8.1. Habermas' Concept of the Public Sphere What is the Public Sphere? The Working Class Critique of the Public Sphere Concept The Feminist Critique of the Public Sphere Concept The Public Sphere: Political Communication and Political Economy Habermas: No Idealization of the Public Sphere, But Rather Public Sphere as Concept of Immanent Critique 8.2. Twitter, Social Media and the Public Sphere Clay Shirky: Social Media as Radically New Enhancers of Freedom Zizi Papacharissi: The Idealization of Individualization: The Private Sphere Jodi Dean: Social Media Politics as Ideology Malcolm Gladwell: Social Media - No Natural Enemies of the Status Quo Evgeny Morozov: Social Media and Slacktivism/Clicktivism Shirky's Response to Gladwell and Morozov 8.3. Political Communication on Twitter The Stratification of Twitter and Microblog Usage The Asymmetrical Power of Visibility on Twitter The Degree of Interactivity of Political Communication on Twitter The 2011 Protests and Revolutions: Twitter and Facebook Revolutions? The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Revolution The Role of Social Media in the Occupy Wall Street Movement 8.4. Twitter's Political Economy Twitter's Terms of Service and Targeted Advertising Capital Accumulation on Twitter 8.5. @JurgenHabermas #Twitter #PublicSphere The Public Sphere and Political Communication on Twitter The Public Sphere and the Visibility of the Powerful on Twitter The Pseudo- and Manufactured Public Sphere 8.6. Conclusion Technological Determinism A Dialectical Concept of Technology and Society A Model of (Social) Media and Revolution9. WikiLeaks. Can We Make Power Transparent? 9.1. WikiLeaks and Power Uncritical Definitions of Surveillance WikiLeaks and the Value-Neutral Definition of Surveillance Critical Definitions of Surveillance Foucault on Disciplinary Power WikiLeaks and Critical Theory WikiLeaks, Watchdogs and Transparency WikiLeaks: Watching the Watchers Online Theories of Power WikiLeaks and the Power of Visibility The Structural Discrimination of Watchdog Organizations 9.2. Wikileaks, Liberalism and Socialism What is Liberalism? What is Socialism? WikiLeaks and Political Worldviews "Good Governance" Watching Corporate Power 9.3. WikiLeaks, Journalism and Alternative Media What is a Journalist? WikiLeaks and Mainstream Media Economic, Political and Cultural Censorship of WikiLeaks WikiLeaks: An Alternative Medium?10. Wikipedia. A New Democratic Form of Production? 10.1. The Communist Idea The Return of Marx Three Dimensions of Communism The Subjective Dimension The Objective Dimension Communism = Participatory Democracy The Subject-Object Dimension 10.2. Communication and Communism The Communication Commons The Commons-Based Internet 10.3. The Political Economy of Wikipedia 10.3.1. The Subjective Dimension of Wikipedia Production: Co-operative Labour 10.3.2. The Objective Dimensions of Wikipedia Production The Common Ownership of the Means of Production Relations of Production: Participatory Democracy in the Economic Realm The Use-Value of Wikipedia: Free Content 10.3.3. The Effect Dimension of Wikipedia Production: The Pleasure of Co-operative Intellectual WorkPART THREE: FUTURES11. Conclusion: Social Media and its Alternatives - Towards a Truly Social Media 11.1. Social Media Reality: Ideologies and Exploitation Ideology Exploitation Social Media: Anticipative and Limited Sociality 11.2. Social Media Alternatives The Internet and the Logic of the Commons Capitalism, Neoliberalism, Crisis Struggles 11.2.1. Data Protection Laws 11.2.2. Opt-In Advertising Policies 11.2.3. Corporate Watch-Platforms as Form of Struggle Against Corporatism 11.2.4. Alternative Internet Platforms 11.3. Towards a Truly Social Media and a New Society

About the Author

Christian Fuchs is professor at and the Director of the University of Westminster's Communication and Media Research Institute. He is also the Director of the Westminster Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Westminster. He is editor of the journal /tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique/ (http://www.triple-c.at) and author of more than 300 publications in the field of the political economy and critical theory of media, communications and the Internet. He is a member of the European Sociological Association's Executive Committee. As well as /Social Media: A Critical Introduction/ (2014), he is the author of /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), /Digital Labour and Karl Marx/ (2014), /OccupyMedia! The Occupy Movement and Social Media in Crisis Capitalism/ (2014), /Foundations of Critical Media and Information Studies/ (2011), and /Internet and Society: Social Theory in the Information Age /(2008).


Christian Fuchs has turned his considerable talents to that rarest of academic creations: a truly, unabashedly critical textbook on a timely and important topic for contemporary media studies. If you want your students to think about issues of power and social justice, if you want to challenge them to re-imagine the world, and if you want an alternative to the anodyne and borderline fan-like writing that has become the stuff of new media texts, this is the book for you. -- Mark Andrejevic Until now, philosophical contributions to understanding the newer media have been trivially apolitical. Finally, in the assured hands of Christian Fuchs, readers have a brilliant introduction to the field that is as astute as it is engaged. -- Toby Miller This is the most complete and wide-ranging discussion of social media there is. An introduction not only to social media, but to critical theory and how it relates to contemporary digital culture, this book astutely illuminates an increasingly important social phenomenon that has become an integral part of modern daily living. -- Vincent Miller

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