Are Social Networks Inherently Alienating? A Neo-­‐Marxist Account of the Information Age

Chris Forster

Abstract


This paper seeks to address a theoretical debate concerning whether technology can be independent from the system it exists within. In this case the technology is that of Social Networks which have become one of the most expansive innovations of the Information Age, and has inspired a positive view of it benefitting society. However I argue this is false as they exist within a capitalist system, which seeks to exploit and commodify the users of these Networks. My research uses a Neo-Marxist critique in an attempt to analyse three different forms of Social Networks in order to determine if they are alienating to their users. The hypothesis of this research is that ‘Social Networks are inherently alienating due to their existence in the capitalist system’. The first part of the paper is focused on an extensive literature review covering the context of the argument between the computer-utopians and the sceptics. The second part of this paper will be the methodology and research where a framework is created in which the three Platforms are critiqued. This framework is based on the result of both the method of capital accumulation and the type of labour performed. The Networks chosen are: Facebook, LinkedIn and Loomio. The conclusion to the research is that although the hypothesis is correct in the case of Facebook and LinkedIn the lack of initial exploitation within Loomio shows that it is possible to create a system free from estranged labour. But this is a conclusion with a pessimistic undertone as since Loomio has developed from its beta phase it has become increasingly dependent on exploitative methods of attaining revenue. The research will however prove important as it challenges the idea that it is possible to create absolutist statements about the Information Age


Full Text:

PDF

References


Andrews, L (2012), Facebook Is Using You, New York Times, accessed on 22/02/2015, available at http://devo.lbl.gov/~dhaxton/Site_6/Articles_files/Facebook%20Is%20Using%20You%20-%20NYTimes.com.pdf

Albergotti, R (2014), LinkedIn’s revenue gains sharply, The Wall street journal, accessed on 03/03/2015, available at http://www.wsj.com/articles/LinkedIn-reports-strong-results-weak-outlook-1414700400

Al Gore Cited by Smith, M, Kollack, P (1999), Communities in Cyberspace, Routledge

Barbook, R ( 1996), The californian Ideology, University of Westminster, accessed on 12/02/2015, available at http://www.hrc.wmin.ac.uk/theory-californianideology-main.html

Barbook, R (1998), The High tech gift economy, First monday, accessed on 03/03/2015, available at http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/631/552

Bartlett, R (2015), Responce to payment plan question, Loomio, accessed on 29/12/2015, available at https://www.loomio.org/d/ope40bNW/payment-plans?&locale=cs

Berman, M (1982), All thats Solid Melts into air, Penguin Books

Bell, D cited by C Fuchs (2010), Labor in Informational Capitalism and on the Internet, The Information Society: An International Journal, 26:3, 179-196, DOI: 10.1080/01972241003712215, accessed on 19/02/2015, available at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/01972241003712215

Borsook, P (2001) "Cyberselfish: Ravers, Guilders, Cyberpunks, And Other Silicon Valley LifeForms," Yale Journal of Law and Technology: Vol. 3: Iss. 1, Article 1. available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjolt/vol3/iss1/1

Castells, M (2009), The Rise of the Network Society, 1 : The Information Age - Economy, Society, and Culture (With a New Preface), Wiley-Blackwell

Castells, M (2012), Occupy Wall Street: Harvesting the Salt of the earth: Social Movements in the Information Age, Policy Press

CNN MONEY, (2014), A lot to like: Facebook Now worth $200 Billion, CNN NEWs, A Time Warner Company, accessed on 19/02/2015, available at http://money.cnn.com/2014/09/09/investing/Facebook-worth-200-billion/

Cookson, R (2015), LinkedIn to let marketers to use more of its data to track users, Financial Times, Accessed on 05/03/2015, available at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/93e928a4-b763-11e4-8807-00144feab7de.html#axzz3TXlm0A2G

Curtis, A (2011), All Machines of Loving Grace, BBC

Division for the Advancement of Women(DAW) (2005), Equal Participation of Women and Men in Decision-Making Processes, with Particular Emphasis on Political Participation and Leadership, The UN - Division for the Advancement of Women, accessed on 03/03/2015, available at http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/egm/eql-men/FinalReport.pdf

DiMaggio, P et al (2001), Social Implications of the Internet, Annu. Rev. Social. 2001. 27: 307–36

Donnelly, L (2012), Facebook and Twitter feeds anxiety, Telegraph, accessed on 17/02/2015, available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/9383609/Facebook-and-Twitter-feed-anxiety-study-finds.html

eBiz (2015), Top 15 most popular social networking sites, eBizMBA, accessed on 19/02/2015, available at http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites

Ellul J (1964), the technological society, Vintage Books

Facebook (1) (2015), About Facebook, Facebook, available at https://www.Facebook.com/Facebook/info?tab=page_info, accessed on 22/02/2015

Facebook (2)(2015), Data Policy, Facebook, accessed on 19/02/2015, available at https://www.Facebook.com/about/privacy/

Facebook (3)(2015), Front page, Facebook accessed on 19/02/2015, available at www.Facebook.com

Facebook (4)(2015), Advertising Guidelines, Facebook, accessed on 19/02/2015, available at https://www.facebook.com/ad_guidelines.php

Femia, J (1981), Gramsci’s Political thought: Hegemony Consciousness

and the revolutionary process, Clarendon Press

Fischer, E (1996) How to read Karl Marx, Monthly Review Press.

Freedman, B (1975), A Moral Theory of Informed Consent, The Hastings Center Report Vol. 5, No. 4 (Aug., 1975): 32-39

Foster, J B et al (1998), Capitalism and the Information Age, Monthly Review Press

Foster J B in Foster, J B et al (1998), Capitalism and the Information Age, Monthly Review Press

Fuchs, C (2012), Karl Marx @ Internet Studies, European Journal of Social Theory, November 26, 2012

Fuchs, C (2012), Capitalism or information society? The fundamental question of the present structure of society, European Journal of Social Theory, November 2013 vol. 16 no. 4: 413-434

Fuchs, C (2009), Information and Communication Technologies and Society: A Contribution to the Critique of the Political Economy of the Internet, European Journal of Communication March 2009 vol. 24 no. 1: 69-87

Fuchs, C (2011), An alternative view of privacy on Facebook, Information 2011, 2(1), 140-165

Fuchs, C (2010), Labor in Informational Capitalism and on the Internet, The Information Society: An International Journal, 26:3, 179-196, available at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/01972241003712215

Fulton, J (1987), Religion and Politics in Gramsci: An Introduction, Sociology of Religion (1987) 48 (3): 197-216

Golding, P in Foster, J B et al (1998), Capitalism and the Information Age, Monthly Review Press

Hampton, N et al (2009), Social Isolation and new technology: How the Internet and mobile phones impact Americans’ social networks, Pew Internet project, accessed on 16/02/2015, available at http://www.pewInternet.org/files/old-media/Files/Reports/2009/PIP_Tech_and_Social_Isolation.pdf

Hardt, M (2006), Immaterial labour and artistic production, Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture & Society, 17(2): 175-177

Holmes, K. M. and O'Loughlin, N. (2014), The experiences of people with learning disabilities on social networking sites. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42: 1–5

Karim, K (2001) Cyber-Utopia and the Myth of Paradise: Using Jacques Ellul’s Work on Propaganda To Analyse Information Society Rhetoric, Information, Communication & Society, 4:1: 113-134

Keen, A (2012), Digital Vertigo: How today’s online social revolution is dividing, diminishing and disorienting us, Constable Press

Kirkpatrick,D (2011), The Facebook effect, Virgin Books

Krumm, J Davis, N, Narayanaswami, C (2008), User generated content, accessed on 19/02/2015, Available at http://www.computer.org/csdl/mags/pc/2008/04/mpc2008040010.pdf

Knight, B (2013), how technology can enable everyday democracy: Ben Knight at TEDx TeAro, TEDx Talks, accessed on 02/03/2015, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vCL4I19o9U

Kuss, D & Griffiths M (2011) Online Social Networking and Addiction—A Review of the Psychological Literature, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(9): 3528-3552

Lazzarato, M (1996), Immaterial Labour, in Radical thoughts in Italy: a potential politics, University of Minnesota

LinkedIn (1) (2015), About us, LinkedIn, accessed on 01/03/2015, available at https://press.LinkedIn.com/about-LinkedIn

LinkedIn (2) (2015), Our Story, LinkedIn, accessed on 01/03/2015, available at https://ourstory.LinkedIn.com/

LinkedIn (3) (2015), Premium products, LinkedIn, accessed on 02/03/2015, available at https://www.LinkedIn.com/premium/products?displayProducts=&trk=nav_responsive_sub_nav_upgrade

LinkedIn (4) (2015), Privacy Policy, LinkedIn, accessed on 01/03/2015, available at https://www.LinkedIn.com/legal/privacy-policy?trk=hb_ft_priv

LinkedIn (5) (2015), Recruiting solutions on LinkedIn, LinkedIn, accessed on 02/03/2015, available at https://business.LinkedIn.com/talent-solutions

Loomio (1) (2015), Loomio Front page, Loomio Accessed on 20/02/2015, available at https://www.Loomio.org/

Loomio (2) (2015), Privacy, Loomio, accessed on 03/03/2015, available at https://www.loomio.org/privacy

Loomio (3) (2013), Loomio 1.0 product information, Loomio, accessed on 03/03/2015, available at https://Loomio.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/Loomio-1-0-product-info.pdf

Loomio (4) (2015), Terms of Service, Loomio, accessed on 03/03/2015, available at https://www.loomio.org/terms_of_service

Loomio (5) (2015), Pricing, Loomio, accessed on 29/11/2015, available at https://www.loomio.org/pricing

Lovink, G, Rossiter, N (2006), Organised Networks, NAi Publishers, accessed 02/03/2015, available at http://www.nedrossiter.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Organized_Networks.pdf

Maidaborn, V, Knight, B (2014), Introducing Loomio, Loomio, accessed on 20/02/2015, available at https://Loomio.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/Loomio-two-pager-march-2014.pdf

Marx, K (1844), Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Progress Publishers, Translated by Mulligan, M

Marx, K (1891), Wage Labour and capital, Neue Rheinische Zeitung, Translated by F Engels

Marx, K (1993), Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy (rough draft). Translated with a foreword by Martin Nicolaus. London: Penguin Books.

McChesney,R (1998), Making Media Democratic, Boston Review, Accessed on 01/03/2015, available at http://new.bostonreview.net/BR23.3/mcchesney.html

Micheletti, M, Follesdal, A, Stolle, D (2003), Politics, Products, and Markets: Exploring Political Consumerism Past and Present, Transaction Publishers

MNT (2014), Social media: how does it really affect our mental health and well-being?, Medical News Today, accessed on 17/02/2015, available at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275361.php

Negri, A (2003), Reflections on Empire, Polity, translated by E Emery

Northfield, J (2015), Experiences of people with learning disabilities on social networking sites suggest need for information, support and opportunity for learning, The Learning Disabilities Elf, accessed on 17/02/2015, available at http://www.thelearningdisabilitieself.net/2014/03/07/experiences-of-people-with-learning-disabilities-on-social-networking-sites-suggest-need-for-information-support-and-opportunity-for-learning/

O’Keeffe, G, Clarke-Pearson K (2011), The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families, American Academy of Pediatrics, PEDIATRICS Vol. 127 No. 4 April 1, 2011: 800-804

Peterson, S (2008), Loser generated content: From participation to exploitation, first Monday: peer reviewed gernal of the Internet, accessed on 02/03/2015, available at http://firstmonday.org/article/view/2141/1948

Pew (2014), Social Networking Fact Sheet, PEW Research centre, accessed on 20/12/2015, available at http://www.pewInternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/

Popper, K (1935), The Logic of scientific discovery, Routledge

Raines, J (2011) Marx on Religion, Temple University Press

Reiss, J, Sprenger, J (2014) "Scientific Objectivity", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), available at http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2014/entries/scientific-objectivity

Rey, P (2012), Alienation, Exploitation, and Social Media, American Behavioral Scientist, SAGE Publishers, 56(4): 399–420

Rheingold, H (2002), SmartMobs: The Next Social Revolution, Basic Books

Sayers. S (2011), Marx & Alienation: essays on Hegelian themes, Palgrave Macmillan

Selfhout, M et al (2008), Different types of Internet use, depression, and social anxiety: The role of perceived friendship quality, Research Centre Adolescent Development, accessed on 17/02/2015, available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140197108001218

Siegfried, A (2014), Press Release 11th March: Loomio Launches, Loomio, accessed on 03/03/2015, available at https://Loomio.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/launchdaypressrelease-nzgeneral.pdf

Sifry, M (2013), Can Social Software Change the World? Loomio Just Might, Tech president, accessed on 03/03/2015, available at http://techpresident.com/news/wegov/23517/can-social-software-change-world-Loomio-just-might

Smith, M, Kollack, P (1999), Communities in Cyberspace, Routledge

Solove, D (2014), Facebook's Psych Experiment: Consent, Privacy, and Manipulation, Huffington Post, accessed on 22/02/2015, available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-j-solove/Facebook-psych-experiment_b_5545372.html

Stelter, B (2009), Facebook’s users ask who owns information, New York times, accessed on 23/02/2015, available at http://msl1.mit.edu/furdlog/docs/nytimes/2009-02-16_nytimes_Facebook_terms_of_service.pdf,

Taylor, P, Harris J (2008), Critical Theories of Mass Media: Then and Now, McGraw-Hill Education

The Telegraph (2009), Facebook Fuelling Divorces, Research Claims, The Telegraph, accessed on 01/03/2015, available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/Facebook/6857918/Facebook-fuelling-divorce-research-claims.html

Treanor, J (2014), Richest 1% of people own nearly half of global wealth, Guardian online, accessed on 25/02/2015, available at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/14/richest-1percent-half-global-wealth-credit-suisse-report

Trotsky, L (1928), Literature and Revolution, Soviet Government, accessed on 10/03/2015, available at https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1924/lit_revo/ch08.htm

Vaughan, G (2002), The Gift Economy, © Genevieve Vaughan, accessed on 03/03/2015, available at http://www.gift-economy.com/articlesAndEssays/theGiftEconomy-article.pdf

Yeung, K (2013), LinkedIn’s Talent solution service is perhaps the professional social network’s best kept secret, The next web, accessed on 02/03/2015, available at http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/05/05/LinkedIn-talent-solution/

Zajc, M (2015) The Social Media Dispositive and Monetization of User-Generated Content, The Information Society: An International Journal, 31:1, 61-67

Zizek, S (2012), The interpassive subject, European graduate school, accessed on 19/02/15, available at http://www.egs.edu/faculty/slavoj-zizek/articles/the-interpassive-subject/

Zuckerberg, M (2006), An open letter from Mark Zuckerberg,, accessed on 22/02/2015, Facebook available at https://www.Facebook.com/notes/Facebook/an-open-letter-from-mark-zuckerberg/2208562130


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.