Troubled Waters: Structural Inequalities, Structural Responses Union for Democratic Communications 2016 conference

Hosted by the Union for Democratic Communications at Wayne State University,  September 29 – October 1, 2016

Deadline for submissions: May 2, 2016

As global inequality reaches staggering levels and capitalism becomes increasingly unstable, people of color increasingly face disproportionate impacts of environmental degradation, pauperization, and state repression. Media and communications systems play an important role in enabling and resisting such phenomena across the globe, from Europe’s refugee crisis, to police violence in the U.S., to the illegal occupation of Palestine, to the displacement of people across the Global South due to climate change.

The global phenomenon of racialized inequality has poignantly played out  in Detroit, the site of this year’s conference. The city, once a symbol of the United States’ industrial dominance, has been reconstructed over the last 40 years as one of decay in the popular imaginary. From lead-tainted drinking water to crumbling schools, southeastern Michigan has felt the suffering that stems from the failures of the corporate state and institutionalized racism. Unfortunately, Detroit’s experience is not unique, but rather must be seen as part of a broader war on the working-class and people of color under neoliberalism, facilitated by utopian myths around digital technology and the post-industrial economy.

Though these problems are the result of varied historical and deep-seated racial and social injustices, their continued existence is not a foregone conclusion. This UDC conference will draw attention to the relationship between neoliberal culture and ideology and institutional racism, both domestically and internationally. Specifically, the conference organizers encourage submissions that examine how systematic, institutionalized racism shapes our physical, social, cultural, ecological, and mediated environments; we also encourage submissions that identify promising avenues of institutional and social transformation.

We invite abstract submissions to this year’s conference from new and emerging scholars, graduate students, artists, activists, and media practitioners. We welcome proposals for paper presentations, workshops, theme panels, film screenings, artistic interventions, and other formats.  Abstracts should be between 300-500 words.  Graduate students who want to be considered for the Brian Murphy Student Paper Award should submit a full paper along with their abstract.  All submissions are subject to double-blind review and can be submitted at via EasyChair.

Deadline:  May 2, 2016.

If you have questions about this process, please contact the Steering Committee.

New Publication: Crisis of Command: Theorizing Value in New Media

Communication_TheoryMy latest contribution to theorizing value in new media is now available online from Communication Theory.

Abstract

Theorists of free labor have argued that users produce value directly for capital through unwaged participation in online social media platforms. I argue that this interpretation of value is misguided. I begin with a brief overview of the labor theory of value as it has been developed by political economists in the context of new media. I then use Marxian crisis theory to demonstrate the limitations of the concept of free labor. I also elaborate how value is created within media markets through a complex set of interactions among media firms, market researchers, advertisers, finance capital, and unwaged content producers. I conclude with a discussion of the consequences of free labor theory for Marxian politics.

Alternate Routes: upcoming issue on precarious labor

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COMING SOON: PRECARIOUS WORK AND THE STRUGGLE FOR LIVING WAGES

Precarious Work and the Struggle for Living Wages will feature orginal articles by Wayne Lewchuck, Stephanie Luce, Ian Cunningham, Patricia MacDermott, John Bellamy Foster, Jamil Jonna, Tanner Mirlees, Stephen McBride, Jacob Muirhead, John Shields, David Livingston, Don Wells, Charlie Post, Christian Fuchs, Brett Caraway, Jeff Noonan and many others.Forthcoming January 2016!

Come join me for Surplus3: Labour and the Digital

Untitled-3I am participating in this wonderful symposium celebrating the publication of Nick Dyer-Witheford’s most recent book Cyber-Proletariat: Global Labour in the Digital Vortex. Participants will have 3 minutes to speak to a given concept. That’s faster than green grass through a goose folks. Sounds fun! See you at the Bahen Centre for Information Technology, Tuesday October 20th at 7pm.

New publication: OUR Walmart: a case study of connective action

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OUR Walmart: a case study of connective action, by Brett Caraway
Abstract
This article analyzes communication practices within networked social movements by exploring the network structure of an organization responsible for numerous labor actions and campaigns targeting the retail giant Walmart. This case study of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) represents an initial attempt to map the network structure of an emergent form of labor organization. To better understand the relationship between communication and collective action, I utilize Bennett and Segerberg’s [(2012). The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 29] model of connective action to examine the organizational structure of OUR Walmart. I conducted semi-structured interviews with a dozen union representatives, OUR Walmart members, and current and former Walmart employees. My intention is to (1) delineate the network structure of a new and significant organizational form of class struggle and (2) consider the utility and validity of the logic of connective action. I conclude with a consideration of the limitations and affordances of the network structure of OUR Walmart for workers engaged in struggles for better working conditions and higher wages. This research finds support for Bennett and Segerberg’s model of large-scale action networks. Moreover, this research suggests that organizationally enabled networks are an effective means of coordinating class struggle.

Full article available HERE

World Book and Copyright Day

Come join me as I do a reading for World Book and Copyright Day!

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A Collaborative Literary Performance in the Public Domain

Thursday, April 23, 2015, 9:00 am – 7:30 pm, or until finished

Robarts Library, 2nd floor lobby

Free Admission | Open to the public

Join us for a public and collaborative reading of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in its entirety in celebration of World Book and Copyright Day. World Book and Copyright Day is an event in honor of authorship and literacy and raises awareness about authors’ rights and users’ rights.

Brought to you by University of Toronto Libraries’ Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office and the University of Toronto CAPAL student chapter.

Loss and a Little Dog

liloo1My father is fond of telling the tale of how Liloo once caused a stampede. It was about 15 years ago when Liloo was still a pup. I can’t remember why, but at the time we were running two bulls with the herd. Liloo happened upon the bulls in a field next to the red barn and began circling them and barking loudly. At first the bulls just stared blankly at her. Gradually they became agitated and charged her, trying their best to stomp her under hoof. There was little I could do other than yell at Liloo as I watched events unfold. She paid me no mind as she weaved figure eights in and around the bulls, all the while barking. Eventually the bulls became spooked by her tenacity and began to run. They ran about a hundred yards down to the creek and then up a steep embankment on the other side. Liloo was snapping at their heels the whole way. They rejoined the herd on the far side of the creek and it was at this point that the stampede began. If I recall correctly, it was only about 15 to 20 head of cattle, but that is more than enough for a potentially dangerous situation. I continued to yell in vain as Liloo chased the herd into the hills beyond. She was little more than a small black dot when she disappeared over the event horizon. I stood there waiting for a good 5 minutes before that Continue reading

Come join me for Conscious Activism Documentary Series

web_tile_docseriesI’ll be taking part in a panel around a screening of #Chicago Girl at Hart House as part of the Hancock Lecture Series on February 9th from 6-9pm.

Come witness the new kind of revolution manifested in recent years through computer technology and social media with #ChicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator. This documentary tells the story of teenager Ala’a Basatneh who helps to coordinate the Syrian revolution from her Chicago home through Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google maps, and camera phones. Through these means Ala’a helps to network activists on the ground in Syria to gain momentum in facing a dictator and to gather evidence through camera technology to inform the world of the human rights atrocities occurring.

This documentary illuminates how technology and media that have become part of everyday living for many young people can be used as tools for activism and solidarity with causes occurring all over the world.

Watch the trailer: http://www.chicagogirlfilm.com/#!trailer/c1aol

For more info: http://harthouse.ca/events/documentary-series-chicagogirl-the-social-network-takes-on-a-dictator/

Come join me for Lunch and Learn at Hart House

Harthouse_torontoPart of the 2015 Hart House Hancock Lecture: The Myth of Slacktivism

Lunch and Learn: How to Kickstart Your Own Slacktivist Movement

Details: Speakers will be invited to share their experience with social media in non-profit and fundraising realms in an informal lunch setting. Students will be prompted to discuss practical applications of their skills and passions, discuss possibilities and limitations of social media activism, and network with illustrious speakers in a comfortable environment.

Speakers include Sheila Sampath, founder and editor of Shameless Magazine and Brett Caraway, Professor of Digital Media and Cultural Studies at UTM and iSchool.

When: Wed., Jan. 21, 2015, 11:30 am-1: 30 pm
Where: South Dining Room, Hart House
Cost: Free / Lunch provided / Register online

http://harthouse.ca/events/lunch-and-learn-how-to-kickstart-your-own-slacktivist-movement/

ICCIT Student Samantha Holmes Featured on CBC The National

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ICCIT student Samantha Holmes was recently featured on The National. In fact, our whole class (CCT109 Contemporary Communication Technology) managed to ride Samantha’s coattails for a few seconds. See the video at the link below (10:33) and be sure to check out Samantha’s YouTube channel while you are at it.

Living the Digital Dream
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Last Lecture Series

1112We asked Brett Caraway what would be his last lecture if he were going to die tomorrow, the last lesson he would want to give to his students.

That is what the Last Lecture Series is all about. Come out on Friday, October 10th to learn about Existentialism and what it means to “be”. It will be held in IB 150 at the University of Toronto Mississauga.