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  • Capitalism and Communication

    Christian Fuchs

    Chapter from the book: Fuchs, C. 2020. Communication and Capitalism: A Critical Theory.


    This chapter examines how capitalism and communication are interwoven. It discusses capital accumulation, the role of labour in capitalism and the key role of time. Next the relation of the economy and communication is outlined. It is observed that the communications industry has a contradictory character. Alternative media and critical reception challenge capitalist communication. Capitalism is analysed as a class society in which the capitalist class exploits workers in order to accumulate capital. Capitalism is not just an economic system, but is a type of society whose structural principle is the logic of accumulation whose consequences include economic alienation and the logic of acceleration whereby dominant actors accumulate capital, political and cultural power, by increasing the speed of the production, circulation and use of commodities and experiences. In this context information and communication are peculiar goods: it is hard to exclude others from access to information. Information can easily be copied and distributed as a gratis resource. Media capital reacts by exploiting labour. In each area a particular commodity is sold through various models from online subscriptions, to advertising, to the charging of rent for the use of digital platforms. Diverse forms of labour are exploited are related to each other via the international division of communication labour. Audience members act as recipients who interpret media content. In the case of advertising, audiences are workers who produce attention and the audience commodity. In the case of targeted online advertising, users are workers who produce online attention and the data commodity.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Fuchs, C. 2020. Capitalism and Communication. In: Fuchs, C, Communication and Capitalism. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book45.e

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on May 19, 2020