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Christian Fuchs <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 26 Feb 2012 15:20:01 +0100
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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.

Abstract Submission Deadline:
Wednesday, Feb 29th, 17:00 CET
Submission guidelines:

With plenary talks by Vincent Mosco, Graham Murdock, Andrew Feenberg, 
Catherine McKercher, Charles Ess, Christian Christensen, Christian 
Fuchs, Gunilla Bradley, Mark Andrejevic, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Peter 
Dahlgren, Tobias Olsson, Trebor Scholz, Ursula Huws, Wolfgang Hofkirchner.

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 
social media?
* 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 
Internet Studies?
* 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?


a) For submission, please first register your profile on the ICTs and 
Society platform:
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]

Notifications about acceptance or rejection of abstracts will be sent 
out within one week after the end of the deadline.