Call for Contributions/Abstracts
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.
A unique event for networking, presentation of critical ideas, critical
engagement, and featuring leading critical scholars in the area of
Critical Internet Studies and Critical Studies of Media & Society.
Confirmed Keynote Speakers
* Andrew Feenberg (Simon Fraser University, Canada): Great Refusal and
Long March: How to Use Critical Theory to Think About the Internet.
* Charles Ess (Aarhus University, Denmark): Digital Media Ethics and
Philosophy in 21st Century Information Society
* Christian Christensen (Uppsala University, Sweden): WikiLeaks:
* Christian Fuchs (Uppsala University, Sweden): Critique of the
Political Economy of Social Media and Informational Capitalism
* Graham Murdock (Loughborough University, UK): The Peculiarities of
Media Commodities: Consumer Labour, Ideology, and Exploitation Today
* Gunilla Bradley (KTH, Sweden): Social Informatics and Ethics: Towards
a Good Information Society
* Mark Andrejevic (University of Queensland, Australia): Social Media:
Surveillance and Exploitation 2.0
* Nick Dyer-Witheford (University of Western Ontario, Canada):
Cybermarxism Today: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in 21st Century
* Peter Dahlgren (Lund University, Sweden): Social Media and the Civic
Sphere: Perspectives for the Future of Democracy
* Tobias Olsson (Jönköping University, Sweden): Social Media
Participation and the Organized Production of Net Culture
* Trebor Scholz (New School, USA): The Internet as Playground and Factory
* Ursula Huws (University of Hertfordshire, UK): Virtual Work and the
Cybertariat in Contemporary Capitalism (TBC)
* 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
* Wolfgang Hofkirchner (Vienna University of Technology, Austria):
Potentials and Risks for Creating a Global Sustainable Information Society
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 society.
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
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
* What is the role of the Internet and social media in contemporary
* 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
* 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 society?
* 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
* 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
* 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 colonization?
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).
About Uppsala, Uppsala University and the Department of Informatics and
Uppsala University (http://www.uu.se) was founded in 1477 and is the
oldest university in the Nordic countries. Every year 45 000
undergraduate and graduate students enroll for classes. Uppsala is an
academic and students-oriented city with old academic tradition. The
Department of Informatics and Media (http://www.im.uu.se) is a newly
established institution at Uppsala University. Its research focuses on
understanding and designing digital media in the information society.
Among its educational programmes is a new master’s programme in Digital
Media & Society that will start in August 2012.
Early May is a particularly nice time to come and visit Uppsala. It is
the time of spring festivities and the awakening of nature and the city.
The end of April has since medieval times been a time of celebrating the
spring, especially in Eastern Sweden. Uppsala and especially Uppsala’s
students have participated in this tradition, especially on the last of
April (“sista april”, Valborg, http://www.valborgiuppsala.se/en) that
features various celebrations and special activities all over the town.
February 29th, 2012, 17:00, Central European Time (CET): Abstract
Until March 11th, 2012: information about acceptance or rejection of
March 30th, 2012, 17:00, CET: registration deadline
May 2nd-4th, 2012: Conference, Ekonomikum, University of Uppsala,
Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala
a) For submission, please first register your profile on the ICTs and
b) Please download the abstract submission form:
insert your presentation title, contact data, and an abstract of 200-500
words. The abstract should clearly set out goals, questions, the way
taken for answering the questions, main results, the importance of the
topic for critically studying the information society and/or social
media and for the conference.
Please submit your abstract until February 29th, 2012, per e-mail to
Marisol Sandoval: [log in to unmask]
Uppsala University, Department of Informatics and Media, Kyrkogårdsgatan
10, Box 513, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden http://www.im.uu.se
Contact for academic questions in respect to the conference:
Prof. Christian Fuchs, [log in to unmask] , Tel +46 18 471 1019
Contact for questions concerning conference organization and administration:
Marisol Sandoval, [log in to unmask]
* ICTs and Society Network
* European Sociological Association – Research Network 18: Sociology of
Communications and Media Research
* tripleC – Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society
* Unified Theory of Information Research Group (UTI), Austria
* Department of Information and Media Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark
* Institute for Design & Assessment of Technology, Vienna University of
* Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, Sweden
Conference Board and Organization Committee:
Charles Ess, Aarhus University
Christian Christensen, Uppsala University
Christian Fuchs, Uppsala University + UTI Research Group
Göran Svensson, Uppsala University
Marisol Sandoval, Unified Theory of Information Research Group
Sebastian Sevignani, Unified Theory of Information Research Group
Sylvain Firer-Blaess, Uppsala University
Thomas Allmer, Unified Theory of Information (UTI) Research Group
Tobias Olsson, Jönköping University
Verena Kreilinger, Unified Theory of Information Research Group
Wolfgang Hofkirchner, Vienna University of Technology + UTI Research Group
Welcome to Uppsala in Spring 2012!