[artinfo] CfA: Critique, Democracy, and Philosophy in 21st Century information Society

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at uti.at
Mon Nov 21 22:18:01 CET 2011

Call for Contributions/Abstracts

Critique, Democracy, and Philosophy in 21st 
Century information Society. Towards Critical 
Theories of Social Media.

The Fourth ICTs and Society-Conference

Uppsala University. May 2nd-4th, 2012.



A unique event for networking, presentation of 
critical ideas, critical engagement, and 
featuring leading critical scholars in the area 
of Critical Internet Studies and Critical Studies 
of Media & Society.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

* Andrew Feenberg (Simon Fraser University, 
Canada): Great Refusal and Long March: How to Use 
Critical Theory to Think About the Internet.
* Charles Ess (Aarhus University, Denmark): 
Digital Media Ethics and Philosophy in 21st 
Century Information Society
* Christian Christensen (Uppsala University, 
Sweden): WikiLeaks: Mainstreaming Transparency?
* Christian Fuchs (Uppsala University, Sweden): 
Critique of the Political Economy of Social Media 
and Informational Capitalism
* Graham Murdock (Loughborough University, UK): 
The Peculiarities of Media Commodities: Consumer 
Labour, Ideology, and Exploitation Today
* Gunilla Bradley (KTH, Sweden): Social 
Informatics and Ethics: Towards a Good 
Information Society
* Mark Andrejevic (University of Queensland, 
Australia): Social Media: Surveillance and 
Exploitation 2.0
* Nick Dyer-Witheford (University of Western 
Ontario, Canada): Cybermarxism Today: Cycles and 
Circuits of Struggle in 21st Century Capitalism
* Peter Dahlgren (Lund University, Sweden): 
Social Media and the Civic Sphere: Perspectives 
for the Future of Democracy
* Tobias Olsson (Jönköping University, Sweden): 
Social Media Participation and the Organized 
Production of Net Culture
* Trebor Scholz (New School, USA): The Internet as Playground and Factory
* Ursula Huws (University of Hertfordshire, UK): 
Virtual Work and the Cybertariat in Contemporary 
* Vincent Mosco (Queen's University, Canada): 
Marx is Back, but Will Knowledge Workers of the 
World Unite? On the Critical Study of Labour, 
Media, and Communication Today
* Wolfgang Hofkirchner (Vienna University of 
Technology, Austria): Potentials and Risks for 
Creating a Global Sustainable Information Society

Conference Topic

This conference provides a forum for the 
discussion of how to critically study social 
media and their relevance for critique, 
democracy, politics and philosophy in 21st 
century information society.

We are living in times of global capitalist 
crisis. In this situation, we are witnessing a 
return of critique in the form of a surging 
interest in critical theories (such as the 
critical political economy of Karl Marx, critical 
theory, etc) and revolutions, rebellions, and 
political movements against neoliberalism that 
are reactions to the commodification and 
instrumentalization of everything. On the one 
hand there are overdrawn claims that social media 
(Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, mobile Internet, 
etc) have caused rebellions and uproars in 
countries like Tunisia and Egypt, which brings up 
the question to which extent these are claims are 
ideological or not. On the other hand, the 
question arises what actual role social media 
play in contemporary capitalism, power 
structures, crisis, rebellions, uproar, 
revolutions, the strengthening of the commons, 
and the potential creation of participatory 
democracy. The commodification of everything has 
resulted also in a commodification of the 
communication commons, including Internet 
communication that is today largely commercial in 
character. The question is how to make sense of a 
world in crisis, how a different future can look 
like, and how we can create Internet commons and 
a commons-based participatory democracy.

This conference deals with the question of what 
kind of society and what kind of Internet are 
desirable, what steps need to be taken for 
advancing a good Internet in a sustainable 
information society, how capitalism, power 
structures and social media are connected, what 
the main problems, risks, opportunities and 
challenges are for the current and future 
development of Internet and society, how 
struggles are connected to social media, what the 
role, problems and opportunities of social media, 
web 2.0, the mobile Internet and the ubiquitous 
Internet are today and in the future, what 
current developments of the Internet and society 
tell us about potential futures, how an 
alternative Internet can look like, and how a 
participatory, commons-based Internet and a 
co-operative, participatory, sustainable 
information society can be achieved.

Questions to be addressed include, but are not limited to:

* What does it mean to study the Internet, social 
media and society in a critical way? What are 
Critical Internet Studies and Critical Theories 
of Social Media? What does it mean to study the 
media and communication critically?
* What is the role of the Internet and social media in contemporary capitalism?
* How do power structures, exploitation, 
domination, class, digital labour, 
commodification of the communication commons, 
ideology, and audience/user commodification, and 
surveillance shape the Internet and social media?
* How do these phenomena shape concrete platforms 
such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc?
* How does contemporary capitalism look like? 
What is the role of the Internet and social media 
in contemporary capitalism?
* In what society do we live? What is the actual 
role of information, ICTs, and knowledge in 
contemporary society? Are concepts like network 
society, information society, informational 
capitalism, etc adequate characterizations of 
contemporary society or overdrawn claims? What 
are the fundamental characteristics of 
contemporary society and which concept(s) should 
be used for describing this society?
* What is digital labour and how do exploitation 
and surplus value generation work on the 
Internet? Which forms of exploitation and class 
structuration do we find on the Internet, how do 
they work, what are their commonalities and 
differences? How does the relation between toil 
and play change in a digital world? How do 
classes and class struggles look like in 21st 
century informational capitalism?
* What are ideologies of the Internet, web 2.0, 
and social media? How can they be deconstructed 
and criticized? How does ideology critique work 
as an empirical method and theory that is applied 
to the Internet and social media?

* Which philosophies, ethics and which 
philosophers are needed today in order to 
understand the Internet, democracy and society 
and to achieve a global sustainable information 
society and a participatory Internet? What are 
perspectives for political philosophy and social 
theory in 21st century information society?
* What contradictions, conflicts, ambiguities, 
and dialectics shape 21st century information 
society and social media?
* What theories are needed for studying the 
Internet, social media, web 2.0, or certain 
platforms or applications in a critical way?
* What is the role of counter-power, resistance, 
struggles, social movements, civil society, 
rebellions, uproars, riots, revolutions, and 
political transformations in 21st century 
information society and how (if at all) are they 
connected to social media?
* What is the actual role of social media and 
social networking sites in political revolutions, 
uproars, and rebellions (like the recent 
Maghrebian revolutions, contemporary protests in 
Europe and the world, the Occupy movement, etc)?
* How can an alternative Internet look like and 
what are the conditions for creating such an 
Internet? What are the opportunities and 
challenges posed by projects like Wikipedia, 
WikiLeaks, Diaspora, IndyMedia, Democracy Now! 
and other alternative media? What is a 
commons-based Internet and how can it be created?
* What is the role of ethics, politics, and 
activism for Critical Internet Studies?
* What is the role of critical theories in 
studying the information society, social media, 
and the Internet?
* What is a critical methodology in Critical 
Internet Studies? Which research methods are 
needed on how need existing research methods be 
adapted for studying the Internet and society in 
a critical way?
* What are ethical problems, opportunities, and 
challenges of social media? How are they framed 
by the complex contradictions of contemporary 
* Who and what and where are we in 21st century 
capitalist information society? How have 
different identities changed in the global world, 
what conflicts relate to it, and what is the role 
of class and class identity in informational 
* What is democracy? What is the future of 
democracy in the global information society? And 
what is or should democracy be today? What is the 
relation of democracy and social media? How do 
the public sphere and the colonization of the 
public sphere look like today? What is the role 
of social media in the public sphere and its 

The conference is the fourth in the ICTs and 
Society-Conference Series 
(http://www.icts-and-society.net). The ICTs and 
Society-Network is an international forum that 
networks scholars in the interdisciplinary areas 
of Critical Internet Studies, digital media 
studies, Internet & society studies and 
information society studies. The ICTs and Society 
Conference series was in previous years organized 
at the University of Salzburg (Austria, June 
2008), the University of Trento (Italy, June 
2009) and the Internet Interdisciplinary 
Institute (Spain, July 2010).

February 29th, 2012, 17:00, Central European Time 
(CET): Abstract Submission Deadline
Until March 11th, 2012: information about 
acceptance or rejection of presentations
March 30th, 2012, 17:00, CET: registration deadline
May 2nd-4th, 2012: Conference, Ekonomikum, 
University of Uppsala, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala

Abstract Submission:

a) For submission, please first register your 
profile on the ICTs and Society platform:
b) Please download the abstract submission form:
http://fuchs.uti.at/wp-content/uploads/ASF.doc ,
insert your presentation title, contact data, and 
an abstract of 200-500 words. The abstract should 
clearly set out goals, questions, the way taken 
for answering the questions, main results, the 
importance of the topic for critically studying 
the information society and/or social media and 
for the conference.
Please submit your abstract until February 29th, 
2012, per e-mail to Marisol Sandoval: 
marisol.sandoval at uti.at


Uppsala University, Department of Informatics and 
Media, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Box 513, 751 20 
Uppsala, Sweden http://www.im.uu.se
Contact for academic questions in respect to the conference:
Prof. Christian Fuchs, christian.fuchs at im.uu.se , Tel +46 18 471 1019
Contact for questions concerning conference organization and administration:
Marisol Sandoval, marisol.sandoval at uti.at


* ICTs and Society Network
* European Sociological Association - Research 
Network 18: Sociology of Communications and Media 
* tripleC - Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society
* Unified Theory of Information Research Group (UTI), Austria
* Department of Information and Media Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark
* Institute for Design & Assessment of 
Technology, Vienna University of Technology, 
* Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, Sweden

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