New Publication: Literal Media Ecology: Crisis in the Conditions of Production

I have a new article in Television & New Media.

Abstract

This article outlines a socio-political theory appropriate for the study of the ecological repercussions of contemporary media technologies. More specifically, this approach provides a means of assessing the material impacts of media technologies and the representations of capitalist ecological crises. This approach builds on the work of ecological economists, ecosocialist scholars, and Marx’s writings on the conditions of production to argue that capitalism necessarily results in ecological destabilization. Taking Apple’s 2016 Environmental Responsibility Report as a case study, the article uses the theory to analyze Apple’s responses to ecological crises. The article asserts that Apple’s reactions are emblematic of the capitalist compulsion for increasing rates of productivity. However, unless the matter/energy savings achieved through higher rates of productivity surpass the overall increase in the flow of matter/energy in production, ecological crises will continue. Ultimately, capital accumulation ensures continued ecological destabilization.

Read more HERE

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

RICS
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

Participation or Exploitation?

Wages For Facebook, 2014. Poster design by Eric Nylund and Laurel Ptak.

Wages For Facebook, 2014. Poster design by Eric Nylund and Laurel Ptak.

I’ll be leading two sessions in this wonderful reading group put together by my intrepid ICCIT comrade Nicole Cohen and Christine Shaw of Blackwood Gallery. I’ll be discussing the economics of advertising in social media and the rise of networked social movements. Be sure to check out the full schedule and suggested readings at the following link: Blackwood Gallery

2015 UDC Conference at the University of Toronto

UDC 2015 Conference

2015 UDC Conference

The Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT) will host the 2015 Union for Democratic Communications conference May 1st-3rd at the downtown campus of the University of Toronto. The call for papers is available on the conference website: http://udc2015.wordpress.com/cfp/

We look forward to seeing you in Toronto!

Radical Labor History in San Francisco

I spent this week at the Union for Democratic Communications conference in beautiful San Francisco where I gave another presentation about my work on the UFCW and the Walmart strikes. In addition to catching up with old friends at the conference I managed to carve out a little time to learn more about the city’s amazing history of class struggle. Click the photos below for larger versions.

Vesuvio Cafe and Jack Kerouac—where beat poetry was invented.


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