[artinfo] 2nd Call: Conference "Critique, Democracy and Philosophy"

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at uti.at
Sun Feb 12 17:04:04 CET 2012

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.

Information about abstract submission (deadline: February, 29th, 
17:00, CET; early submission is recommended) and further information:


Opening Plenary:
* 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
* Graham Murdock (Loughborough University, UK): The Digital Lives of 
Commodities: Consumption, Ideology and Exploitation Today

With plenary talks by Andrew Feenberg, Catherine McKercher, Charles 
Ess, Christian Christensen, Christian Fuchs, Gunilla Bradley, Mark 
Andrejevic, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Peter Dahlgren, Tobias Olsson, 
Trebor Scholz, Ursula Huws, Wolfgang Hofkirchner.

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 

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 
* 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 capitalism?
* 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 capitalism?
* 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).

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