New Paper: Christian Fuchs: Labor in Informational Capitalism and on the Internet

Fuchs, Christian. 2010. Labor in Informational Capitalism and on the Internet. The Information Society 26 (3): 179-196.

This article argues that in informational capitalism, the notion of class should not be confined to capital as one class and wagelabor as the other class. The notion of class needs to be expanded to include everybody who creates and recreates spaces of common experience, such as user-generated content on the Internet, through
their practices. These spaces and experiences are appropriated and thereby expropriated and exploited by capital to accumulate capital. The rise of informational capitalism requires us to rethink the notion of class and to relate the class concept to knowledge labor.
The article explains foundations of critical political economy, especially the cycle of capital accumulation, and argues that this approach is suited for explaining and analyzing the contemporary information economy, knowledge labor, and the Internet economy. The notions of class and surplus value are applied to knowledge labour and Internet usage.
Based on Dallas Smythe’s notion of the audience commodity, the concept of the Internet produsage/prosumer commodity is worked out. It is argued that on the corporate Internet, and especially on “web 2.0″, information consumption becomes productive, creative, and an active process of surplus value production. Users, their personal data, and their usage behavior become object of permanent economic surveillance and commodification so that profit can be accumulated by selling the users, their data, and their usage behavior as commodity to advertising clients. It is argued that the exploitation of labor on the Internet is infinite. The notions of Internet labor, Internet exploitation, and the Internet produsage/prosumer commodity are connected to critical political economy and the works of Dallas Smythe, Antoni Negri and Michael Hardt, Maria Mies, Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen, Claudia von Werlhof, Slavoj Zizek, and Edward P. Thompson. Some political conclusions about Internet class politics are drawn.

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