The Centre and the Periphery: Productivity and the Global Networked Public Sphere
The author examines consequences of expansion strategies of commercial network media, and compares them to ideals of open and accessible public communication. These strategies level out the falling rates of profits that the increased productivity of labour is bringing. Counter-measures of media industries manipulate the amounts of variable and constant capital (outsourcing of labour, shifting of depreciation costs on users, and specialisation). These processes, which are specific to platform business models, ultimately give rise to fragmentation, individualisation and ideological homogenisation of the peripheral public. The public becomes ideologically similar to the centres of power, whereas its critical potential and, consequently, its effective political freedom decreases. While both the political and the economic subsystems and the public alike use network communication to organise their activities, interaction between the two social domains (the system and the lifeworld) resembles an ‘interactive top-down communication structure’. Inclusion of citizens-consumers into the productivity race renders interactivity similar to one-way communication.
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