Abstract - The Information Society 31(1)


With a different Marx: Value and the contradictions of Web 2.0 capitalism

Bruce Robinson

This paper examines the source of value in Web 2.0 enterprises such as Facebook and Google by analysing the advertising model that supplies the bulk of their revenues. Drawing on Marx's understanding of the circulation of value within the capitalist economy as a whole and his concepts of unproductive labour, subsumption of labour, costs of circulation, commercial capital and primitive accumulation, we analyse the economic relationships of Web 2.0 capital, proposing that revenues from advertising come from value produced in non-Web 2.0 sectors of the economy. On this basis we critique both Fuchs' and Arvidsson and Colleoni's positions on the origin of value in Web 2.0 and recognise some of the difficulties and contradictions of the advertising model as a  form of monetisation of free services for Web 2.0 capital.


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