Rethinking Power in Communicative Capitalism. Critical Perspectives on Media, Culture and Society

Midterm Conference of the ESA Research Network "Sociology of Communications and Media Research"

The proliferation of digital media in the 21st century has once again shown the deeply ambivalent and contradictory potentials of technological development.

Digital technologies have been celebrated for enabling new levels of democratic communication, participatory media production, community building and media activism. From Wikipedia, to open source programming, open access publishing, and peer-to-peer file sharing, we have witnessed the rise of a range of alternative forms of communication and media production that seemed to challenge established media business models and momentarily contested corporate power.

However, far from decreasing the dominance of corporate media, the expansion of digital culture, the Internet and social media further strengthened the power of multinational corporations over media culture and human communication. Despite the rhetoric of ‘social’ media, sharing, community and collaboration, the majority of the digital media sphere remains privately owned and controlled. In this corporate media system, multinational corporations maintain almost exclusive control over large parts of the media and communication technology, infrastructure and content.

Power in communicative capitalism is uneven and corporate control confronts us with a range of problems such as the systematic surveillance of Internet users, an increasingly commercialised online environment, devastating environmental impacts of the production and usage of media technologies and the global exploitation of digital labour. (Digital) media technologies are deeply entangled with the on-going economic, social, environmental and political crises.

Mobilising the empowering qualities of digital technologies and their potential to contribute to progressive social change requires an effective critique of corporate dominance, challenging power inequalities and strengthening radical alternatives.

This conference invites contributions that offer a critical analysis of corporate media culture and alternatives to it and thus contribute to rethinking power in communicative capitalism.

Call for Papers (bis 15. Mai)

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