Critical Theory of Communication

Fuchs, Christian. 2016. Critical Theory of Communication: New Readings of Lukács, Adorno, Marcuse, Honneth and Habermas in the Age of the Internet. London: University of Westminster Press. ISBN 978-1-911534-04-4. Critical Digital and Social Media Studies Book Series, Volume 1.

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Watch an introductory talk to the book from its launch (October 12, 2016, University of Westminster)

This book contributes to the foundations of a critical theory of communication as shaped by the forces of digital capitalism. One of the world’s leading theorists of digital media Christian Fuchs explores how the thought of some of the Frankfurt School’s key thinkers can be deployed for critically understanding media in the age of the Internet. Five essays that form the heart of this book review aspects of the works of Georg Lukács, Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Axel Honneth and Jürgen Habermas and apply them as elements of a critical theory of communication’s foundations. The approach taken starts from Georg Lukács Ontology of Social Being, draws on the work of the Frankfurt School thinkers, and sets them into dialogue with the Cultural Materialism of Raymond Williams.

Critical Theory of Communication offers a vital set of new insights on how communication operates in the age of information, digital media and social media, arguing that we need to transcend the communication theory of Habermas by establishing a dialectical and cultural-materialist critical theory of communication.

It is the first title in a major new book series ‘Critical Digital and Social Media Studies’ published by the University of Westminster Press.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Critical Theory of Communication: New Readings of Lukács, Adorno, Marcuse, Honneth and Habermas in the Age of the Internet

2. Georg Lukács as a Communications Scholar: Cultural and Digital Labour in the Context of Lukács’ Ontology of Social Being

3. Theodor W. Adorno and the Critical Theory of Knowledge

4. Herbert Marcuse and Social Media

5. The Internet, Social Media and Axel Honneth’s Interpretation of Georg Lukács’ Theory of Reification and Alienation

6. Beyond Habermas: Rethinking Critical Theories of Communication

7. Conclusion

Index

Detailed Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Critical Theory of Communication: New Readings of Lukács, Adorno, Marcuse, Honneth and Habermas in the Age of the Internet
1.1. What is Critical Theory?
1.2. Critical Theory and Karl Marx
1.3. The Frankfurt School
1.4. Linking the Frankfurt School and other Critical Theories: Lev Vygotsky, Valentin Vološinov, Ferruccio Rossi-Landi, and Raymond Williams
1.5. The Frankfurt School and Martin Heidegger’s Philosophy
1.6. The Chapters in this Book

2. Georg Lukács as a Communications Scholar: Cultural and Digital Labour in the Context of Lukács’ Ontology of Social Being
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Work and Communication
2.3. Labour and Ideology
2.4. Conclusion

3. Theodor W. Adorno and the Critical Theory of Knowledge
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Adorno – A Media Pessimist?
3.3. Lukács and Adorno: The Theory of Art and Knowledge
3.4. The Dialectics of Knowledge
3.5. Conclusion

4. Herbert Marcuse and Social Media
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Herbert Marcuse and the Computer
4.3. Herbert Marcuse, Hegelian Dialectics and Social Media
4.4. Herbert Marcuse and Digital Labour on Social Media
4.5. Herbert Marcuse, Ideology and Social Media
4.6. Herbert Marcuse, the Logic of Essence and Social Media
4.7. Conclusion

5. The Internet, Social Media and Axel Honneth’s Interpretation of Georg Lukács’ Theory of Reification and Alienation
5.1. Introduction
5.2. Lukács’ Theory of Reification and Alienation
5.3. Axel Honneth’s Interpretation of Lukács’ Concept of Reification in the Critical Theory of Recognition
5.4. Towards a Materialist Theory of Morality as Theory of Co-operation and Social Co-Production
5.5. The Media, Alienation and Morality
5.6. Conclusion

6. Beyond Habermas: Rethinking Critical Theories of Communication
6.1. Introduction
6.2. Economic Reductionism: Alfred Sohn-Rethel
6.3. Cultural Reductionism: Jean Baudrillard
6.4. Labour/Communication Dualism: Jürgen Habermas
6.5. Towards a Dialectic of Labour and Communication: Lev Vygotsky, Valentin Vološinov, Ferruccio Rossi-Landi, Raymond Williams
6.6. Towards a Dialectical Critical Theory of Communication

7. Conclusion
7.1. The Starting Point: Karl Marx
7.2. Georg Lukács: Teleological Positing
7.3. Theodor W. Adorno: The Dialectics of Knowledge
7.4. Herbert Marcuse: The Meta-Dialectic and the Dialectical Logic of Essence
7.5. Axel Honneth Revisits Lukács’ History and Class Consciousness: The Critical Theory of Recognition, Alienation and Reification
7.6. Beyond Jürgen Habermas’ Critical Theory of Communication
7.7. Towards a Dialectical Critical Theory of Communication

Index

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