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Workshop: Marx’s Labour Theory of Value in the Digital Age

Workshop: Marx’s Labour Theory of Value in the Digital Age

COST Action IS1202 “Dynamics of Virtual Work”, http://dynamicsofvirtualwork.com/ The Open University of Israel

June 15-17, 2014

Recent developments in digital technology, from “social media”/”web 2.0” such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Weibo, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Foursquare, etc to mobile devices, have spurred new forms of production.

A variety of terms has been used to describe new production practices and new products enabled by the Internet: participatory culture, co-creation, mass collaboration, social production, commons-based peer production, mass customization, prosumption, produsage, crowdsourcing, open source, social production, user-generated content, user participation, folksonomics, wikinomics, collaborative innovation, open innovation, user innovation.

These terms and debates are often over-optimistic, celebratory and lack a critical understanding of “social media” – they do not engage with the social problem-dimension of the “social”. The multiplicity of neologisms is also a symptom of a “technologistic” outlook, which assumes that each technical innovation brings about a paradigmatic change in culture and in society and more democracy and a better society. While such multiplicity of terms attests to a phenomenology of technological innovation and diversity, it is also an analytical and theoretical liability. Concurrent with this dominant approach, there have been attempts for a systematic critical analysis of new forms of online production, digital labour and commodification on social media through the prism of the labour theory of value. Such theoretical approaches attempt to apply a unified conceptual framework in order to gain better understanding of the socio-economic foundations of digital media and the social relations, power relations and class relations that they facilitate. They also help to connect these new productive practices with a longstanding theoretical tradition emerging from Marxian political economy.

The role of Marx’s labour theory of value for understanding the political economy of digital and social media has been a topic of intense work and debates in recent years, particularly concerning the appropriateness of using Marxian concepts, such as: value, surplus-value, exploitation, class, abstract and concrete labour, alienation, commodities, the dialectic, work and labour, use- and exchange-value, General Intellect, labour time, labour power, the law of value, necessary and surplus labour time, absolute and relative surplus value production, primitive accumulation, rent, reproductive labour, formal and real subsumption of labour under capital, species-being, collective worker, etc.

The critical conceptualization of digital labour has been approached from a variety of critical approaches, such as Marx’s theory, Dallas Smythe’s theory of audience commodification, Critical Theory, Autonomous Marxism, feminist political economy, labour process theory, etc. In this workshop we explore current interventions to the digital labour theory of value. Such interventions propose theoretical and empirical work that contributes to our understanding of the Marx’s labour theory of value, how the nexus of labour and value are transformed under virtual conditions, or they employ the theory in order to shed light on specific practices.

The Israeli location will provide an opportunity to explore some issues pertinent to digital technology in the local context, including a lecture on the Palestinian Internet and a tour exploring techniques of separation and control along the separation wall in Jerusalem.

Keynote talks:

Noam Yoran: The Labour Theory of Television, or, Why is Television Still Around Christian Fuchs: The Digital Labour Theory of Value and Karl Marx in the Age of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Weibo Anat Ben David: The Palestinian Internet

The programme features the following talks:

* Andrea Fumagalli: The concept of life subsumption in cognitive bio-capitalism: valorization and governance

* Bingqing Xia: Marx’s in Chinese online space: some thoughts on the labour problem in Chinese Internet industries

* Brice Nixon: The Exploitation of Audience Labour: A Missing Perspective on Communication and Capital in the Digital Era

* Bruce Robinson: Marx’s categories of labour, value production and digital work

* Eran Fisher: Audience labour: empirical inquiry into the missing link of subjectivity

* Frederick Harry Pitts: Form-giving fire: creative industries as Marx’s ‘work of combustion’”

* Jakob Rigi: The Crisis of the Law of Value? The Marxian Concept of Rent and a Critique of Antonio Negri`s and his Associates` Approach Towards the Marxian Law of Value

* Jernej Prodnik: Media products and (digital) labour in global capitalist accumulation: A preliminary study

* Kylie Jarrett: The Uses of Use-Value: A Marxist-Feminist contribution to understanding digital media

* Marisol Sandoval: The Dark Side of the Information Age – Arguments for an Extended Definition of Digital Labour

* Olivier Frayssé: Cyberspace ground rent, surplus value extraction, realization, and general surplus value apportionment

* Sebastian Sevignani: Productive prosumption, primitive accumulation, or rent? Problematising exploitation 2.0

* Thomas Allmer: Digital and Social Media Between Emancipation and Commodification: Dialectical and Critical Perspectives

* Yuqi Na: Capital accumulation of targeted advertising-based capitalist social media. What do people in the UK and China think about it and why? A Marxist perspective

If you wish to attend the workshop, please contact RSVP Eran Fisher: eranfisher@gmail.com




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Last Modified: May 26, 2014