Commodity and Community in Social Networking: Marx and the Monetization of User-Generated Content
Dal Yong Jin and Andrew Feenberg
In the era of social media, the notion of immaterial labor or free labor can be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand, Hardt and Negri argue, immaterial labor as labor creates immaterial products. On the other hand, free labor can be understood as unpaid labor that is voluntarily given. Fuchs combines the theories of free labor and Hardt and Negri’s concept of the multitude with audience commodity theory in an innovative Marxist analysis of the Internet. In this article we critique Fuchs’ argument for considering social networking sites as the scene of capitalist exploitation of free labor. We argue that Fuchs reduces the user interactions on the Internet to its economic function and so dismisses its democratic implications. In so doing he ignores the human significance of online interaction as a new public sphere.
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