Rethinking Power in Communicative Capitalism. Critical Perspectives on Media, Culture and Society
Instituto University rio de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Date: September 8-10, 2016
Keynote Speakers:
Jodi Dean (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, NY, USA): Communicative capitalism and class struggle
Christian Fuchs (University of Westminster, UK): Karl Marx and communicative capitalism
Important dates:
Abstract submission deadline: May, 15, 2016
Notification of selected abstracts: June, 10, 2016
Conference dates: September 8-10, 2016
Please send your 250-400 words abstract to Romina Surugiu (University of Bucharest), Roy Panagiotopoulou (University of Athens), and Marisol Sandoval (City University London)
Call for Papers:
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.
Questions that can be addressed include, but are not limited to the following ones:
–       Theorizing communicative capitalism
How does power work in communicative capitalism, how can it be theorised and rethought?
–       Ideology in communicative capitalism
What are the main forms of ideology in communicative capitalism and how do they operate in the media? Which forms and approaches of ideology critique do we need to understand them? How are contemporary right-wing extremist, far-right populist, fascist, neoliberal, patriarchal, racist, anti-socialist, pro-capitalist and religious ideologies expressed on the Internet and social media and what are the ways of expressing their petitions for challenging them?
–       The environmental impact of communicative capitalism
What are the environmental impacts of the production of media and communication technologies along global supply chains? What are the environmental impacts of media usage and ?cloud computing?? What are key drivers of negative environmental impacts and how can they be confronted?
–       Labour in communicative capitalism
How does exploitation and alienation work in communicative capitalism? What is the relation between various forms of digital labour? How do working conditions look like in the global production of media and communication technologies? What are the limits and potentials of a global solidary labour movement in communicative capitalism? How can we best think of the relation between work and communication, labour and profit, the economy and culture? How do we have to rethink or even revise the concepts of the ?base? and the ?superstructure??
–       Marxism and communicative capitalism
What is the role, importance and legacy of Karl Marx?s works and Marxist theory in the age of communicative capitalism?
–       Gender and sexuality in communicative capitalism
What is the role of and relationship of identity politics and anti-capitalism for feminist media sociology today?
–       Global perspectives on communicative capitalism
What global power inequalities and asymmetries shape communicative capitalism?
–       Communicative capitalism and the public sphere
How can we best theorise and understand potentials and limits for the mediated public sphere in communicative capitalism?
–       Media and communicative capitalism
How have the media changed in recent years? Are there scopes beyond the capitalist media? How can we best use critical/Marxist political economy and other critical approaches for understanding the media today? What is the role of media and communication technologies in the acceleration and globalization of the capitalist economy? What are the conditions of working in the media, cultural and communication industries in the contemporary times? Who owns the media and ICTs? What are specific characteristics of knowledge and the media as property?
–       Resisting communicative capitalism
What are strategies for left politics to effectively resist and challenge communicative capitalism? What is the role of media activisms today? And the relation between the street activism and the media activism (?Tweets and the streets??)? And how the unions and other kind of non-governmental associations use the media? How their uses differ from the uses made by the newly social movements? Which are the opportunities and the limits of media activisms?
–       Alternatives to communicative capitalism
What are the problems and post-capitalist potentials of alternative projects such as cultural and media co-operatives, left-wing and radical media projects, alternative social media, alternative online platforms, alternative media, community media projects, commons-based media, peer production projects, etc.?
–       Communicative capitalism and the common
What are the potentials or the common to challenge and offer an alternative to communicative capitalism? How can the threat of co-optation be resisted?
–       Communicative capitalism and state power
How does the relationship of media, communication and state power influence the various forms of regulation, control, repression, violence and surveillance?
Abstract submission
Submission deadline for abstracts: May, 15, 2016.
An abstract should be sent to:
Dr. Romina Surugiu (University of Bucharest),
Dr. Roy Panagiotopoulou (University of Athens),
and Dr. Marisol Sandoval (City University London)
Abstracts should be sent as e-mail attachment (250-400 words abstract, title, author name(s), email address, institutional affiliations). Please insert the words ?ESARN18 submission? in the subject.
Conference fees
80 Euro for ESA RN18 members / 100 Euros for non ESA RN18 members (conference dinner included)
60 Euro for ESA RN18 members / 80 Euros for non ESA RN18 members (without conference dinner)
25 Euro for students (Bachelor and Master) (without conference dinner) / 45 Euros (conference dinner included)
The registration details, including the registration form, will be available on the DIN?MIA?CET-IUL website ( on June 1, 2016.
You can become a member of ESA RN18 by joining the ESA and subscribing to the network. The network needs material support, so we encourage you to join or renew your membership. The network subscription fee is only 10 Euros:
Participation support for 4 PhD students and/or independent researchers will be available. This will not cover all costs, but part of them (accommodation and full conference fee). Preference will be given to presentations that suit the overall conference topic.
If you want to apply for participation support, please indicate this in your abstract submission by adding the sentence ?I want to apply for participation support for PhD students / independent researchers?. The notifications about participation support will be sent out together with the notifications of acceptance or rejection of presentations. Additional information to prove your condition as PhD student or independent researcher will be requested.
Conference venue
The conference will be hosted by ISCTE- University Institute of Lisbon
ISCTE-IUL is located at Av das For?as Armadas, 1649-026 Lisbon, Portugal
The organisation will be carried on by DIN?MIA?CET-IUL The local organising committee is led by Paulo Marques Alves, Assistant Professor at ISCTE-IUL and researcher at DIN?MIA?CET-IUL.
The RN18 organising committee is led by Dr. Romina Surugiu, University of Bucharest and Dr. Marisol Sandoval, City University London.

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