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  • Communication Technologies: Means of Communication as Means of Production

    Christian Fuchs

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


    Communication technologies are discussed from a materialist and critical theory perspective. This chapter introduces a typology of communication technologies, discusses their roles in capitalism, and elaborates the notion of technological fetishism. It also outlines how different types of communication technologies are based on the question of whether or not for each of the three dimensions of the production, distribution and consumption of information, only the human body and mind or also communications are used. In capitalism, technology is an instrument and means of production that is not controlled collectively by the workers, but by capitalists. It is used as a means of exploitation, relative surplus value production, control and domination. Capitalism is based on a reversal of means and ends: capital is the end that instrumentalises and exploits workers as a means for capital accumulation. Technology serves under the rule of capital as a means of exploitation and domination. In capitalism, technology is governed by instrumental reason. Technological fetishism is an ideology that presents technological systems as autonomous subjects that are the cause of changes in society, bring about revolutionary changes and have one-dimensional effects. In the analysis of how technology and society are related, the dialectic of technology and society is an alternative to technological determinism and social constructionism. A socialist society would entail the collective control of its immediate producers over the means of production, including technologies. Technology thereby turns communications technologies from a means of exploitation into something that producers collectively control, shape and use.

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

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    Published on May 19, 2020