Call for Papers: The Materiality of the Immaterial: ICTs and the Digital
Special issue of tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique
Abstract submission deadline: January 15, 2015
Guest editors: Vasilis Kostakis, Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and
Governance, Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia), P2P Lab
(Greece); Andreas Roos, Human Ecology Division, Lund University (Sweden)
With an escalating environmental crisis and an unprecedented increase of
ICT diversity and use, it is more crucial than ever to understand the
underlying material aspects of the ICT infrastructure. This special
issue therefore asks the question: What are the true material and
socio-environmental costs of the global ICT infrastructure?
In a recent paper (Fuchs 2013) as well as in the book Digital Labour and
Karl Marx (Fuchs 2014), Christian Fuchs examined the complex web of
production relations and the new division of digital labour that makes
possible the vast and cheap ICT infrastructure as we know it. The
analysis partly revealed that ICT products and infrastructure can be
said to embody slave-like and other extremely harsh conditions that
perpetually force mine and assembly workers into conditions of
dependency. Expanding this argument, the WWF reported (Reed and Miranda
2007) that mining in the Congo basin poses considerable threats to the
local environment in the form of pollution, the loss of biodiversity,
and an increased presence of business-as-usual made possible by roads
and railways. Thus ICTs can be said to be not at all immaterial because
the ICT infrastructure under the given economic conditions can be said
to embody as its material foundations slave-like working conditions,
various class relations and undesirable environmental consequences.
At the same time, the emerging digital commons provide a new and
promising platform for social developments, arguably enabled by the
progressive dynamics of ICT development. These are predominantly
manifested as commons-based peer production, i.e., a new mode of
collaborative, social production (Benkler 2006); and grassroots digital
fabrication or community-driven makerspaces, i.e., forms of bottom-up,
distributed manufacturing. The most well known examples of commons-based
peer production are the free/open source software projects and the free
encyclopaedia Wikipedia. While these new forms of social organisation
are immanent in capitalism, they also have the features to challenge
these conditions in a way that might in turn transcend the dominant
system (Kostakis and Bauwens 2014).
Following this dialectical framing, we would like to call for papers for
a special issue of tripleC that will investigate how we can understand
and balance the perils and promises of ICTs in order to make way for a
just and sustainable paradigm. We seek scholarly articles and
commentaries that address any of the following themes and beyond. We
also welcome experimental formats, especially photo essays, which
address the special issue's theme.
Papers that track, measure and/or theorise the scope of the
socio-environmental impact of the ICT infrastructure.
Papers that track, measure and/or theorise surplus value as both
ecological (land), social (labour) and intellectual (patent) in the
context of ICTs.
Understanding the human organisation of nature in commons-based peer
Studies of the environmental dimensions of desktop manufacturing
technologies (for example, 3D printing or CNC machines) in
non-industrial modes of subsistence, e.g. eco-villages or traditional
agriculture, as well as in modern towns and mega-cities.
Suggestions for and insights into bridging understandings of the
socio-economic organisation of the natural commons with the
socio-economic organisation of the digital commons drawing on types of
organisations in the past and the present that are grounded in theories
of the commons.
Elaboration of which theoretical approaches can be used for overcoming
the conceptual separation of the categories immaterial/material in the
Benkler, Yochai. 2006. The wealth of networks: How social production
transforms markets and freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Fuchs, Christian. 2014. Digital labour and Karl Marx. New York: Routledge.
Fuchs, Christian. 2013. Theorising and analysing digital labour: From
global value chains to modes of production. The Political Economy of
Communication 1 (2): 3-27.
Kostakis, Vasilis and Michel Bauwens. 2014. Network society and future
scenarios for a collaborative economy. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Reed, Erik and Marta Miranda. 2007. Assessment of the mining sector and
infrastructure development in the congo basin region. Washington DC:
World Wildlife Fund, Macroeconomics for Sustainable Development Program
Office, 27. http://awsassets.panda.org/downloads/congobasinmining.pdf
Submission of abstracts (250-300 words) by January 15, 2015 via email to
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Responses about acceptance/rejection to authors: February 15, 2015.
Selected authors will be expected to submit their full documents to
tripleC via the online submission system by May 15, 2015:
Expected publication date of the special issue: October 1, 2015.
About the journal
tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique is an academic open access
online journal using a non-commercial Creative Commons license. It is a
journal that focuses on information society studies and studies of
media, digital media, information and communication in society with a
special interest in critical studies in these thematic areas. The
journal has a special interest in disseminating articles that focus on
the role of information in contemporary capitalist societies. For this
task, articles should employ critical theories and/or empirical research
inspired by critical theories and/or philosophy and ethics guided by
critical thinking as well as relate the analysis to power structures and
inequalities of capitalism, especially forms of stratification such as
class, racist and other ideologies and capitalist patriarchy.
Papers should reflect on how the presented findings contribute to the
illumination of conditions that foster or hinder the advancement of a
global sustainable and participatory information society. TripleC was
founded in 2003 and is edited by Christian Fuchs and Marisol Sandoval.