2 New Articles by Christian Fuchs about the Critique of the Political Economy of Privacy on Facebook and an Introduction to Web 2.0 Surveillance Studies

Two new articles by Christian Fuchs have been published by the journals “Information” and “Sociology Compass”. The first criticizes the political economy of privacy on Facebook, the second gives an introduction to the field of web 2.0 surveillance studies.

The first paper questions uncritical accounts of privacy on Facebook (and other SNS). It introduces an alternative analytical framework for studying privacy on Facebook, social networking sites and web 2.0. This framework is connecting the phenomenon of online privacy to the political economy of capitalism. Facebook’s understanding of privacy is based on an understanding that stresses self-regulation and on an individualistic understanding of privacy. The theoretical analysis of the political economy of privacy on Facebook in this paper is based on the political theories of Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt and Jürgen Habermas. Based on the political economist Dallas Smythe’s concept of audience commodification, the process of Facebook prosumer commodification is analyzed. The political economy of privacy on Facebook is analyzed with the help of a theory of drives that is grounded in Herbert Marcuse’s interpretation of Sigmund Freud, which allows to analyze Facebook based on the concept of play labour (= the convergence of play and labour).

The second article gives an introduction to the field of social media/web 2.0 surveillance studies. This field is a new interdisciplinary research area at the intersection of the two research fields Internet Studies and Surveillance Studies. The article uses the example of Facebook for explaining basic concepts of social media/web 2.0 surveillance studies. Web 2.0 surveillance studies are in an early stage of
development. The debate thus far suggests that one might distinguish between a cultural studies approach and a critical political economy approach in studying web 2.0 surveillance. Surveillance can either be defined in a neutral or a negative way. Depending on which surveillance concept one chooses, Internet ⁄web 2.0 surveillance will be defined in different ways.Web 2.0 surveillance can be characterized as a system of panoptic sorting, mass self-surveillance and personal mass dataveillance.

1) Fuchs, Christian. 2011. An alternative view of privacy on Facebook. Information 2 (1): 140-165. [special issue on “Trust and privacy in our networked world“, edited by Dieter M. Arnold and Herman T. Tavani]. PDF

2) Fuchs, Christian. 2011. New media, web 2.0 and surveillance. Sociology Compass 5 (2): 134-147. PDF

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