Capitalist Crisis, Communication, & Culture – Introduction to the Special Issue of tripleC

  • Christian Fuchs Unified Theory of Information Research Group
  • Matthias Schafranek Unified Theory of Information Research Group
  • David Hakken School of Informatics, Indiana University Bloomington
  • Marcus Breen Department of Communication Studies, Northeastern University
Keywords: crisis financial crisis capitalist crisis ICTs ICT information technology technologies media communication culture


The worldwide economic downturn is indicative for a new large crisis of capitalism. The future of capitalism is in this situation not determined, but depends on collective human agency. This introduction to the special issue of tripleC on “Capitalist Crisis, Communication & Culture” presents general arguments about the crisis, a general model of the political economy of capitalist communication, and a systematic typology of literature about capitalist crisis & communication. The introduced model of the political economy of capitalist communication is comprised of seven interconnected moments: 1) the media content industry, 2) the media infrastructure industry, 3) the interaction of the media economy and the non-media economy, 4) the interaction of the finance sector and the media economy, 5) alternative media, 6) media reception, 7) media prosumption. The model is used for classifying actual and potential research about the communicative dimension of the new capitalist crisis.

Author Biographies

Christian Fuchs, Unified Theory of Information Research Group

Christian Fuchs is chair professor for media and communication studies at Uppsala University’s Department of Informatics and Media  (Institutionen för Informatik och Media) and editor of tripleC (cognition, communication, co-operation): Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society. His main research fields are: social theory, critical theory, political economy of media, information, technology; information society studies, ICTs and society. He is author of numerous publications in these fields. He co-ordinates the research project “Social Networking Sites in the Surveillance Society” (2010-2013), which is funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. 

Matthias Schafranek, Unified Theory of Information Research Group
Matthias Schafranek is member of the Unified Theory of Information Research Group, research fellow and PhD Student at the University of Salzburg. He studied Geography at the University of Salzburg. From 1999 to 2002 he was research assistant to the SFB-Project of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): Pluralism of Theories and Paradigms Within and Among Sciences. In 2007 Matthias joined the eThoery Group of the ICT&S Center and extended his research focus on human cooperation to the new context of the Web. His research interests are: critical political economy of commons-based peer production, knowledge commons, the renegotiation of intellectual property in the digital age.
David Hakken, School of Informatics, Indiana University Bloomington
David Hakken studied cultural anthropology at Stanford, Chicago, and the American University in Washington, D.C in the 1960s and ‘70s. The abiding concerns of his research career have been the complex ways in which social change, culture, and technology, especially automated information and communication technology, co-construct each other. This has led him to study worker education, public policy, and workplace use of new information technology in Britain and the United States; software development in Britain, the Nordic countries, the US, and Malaysia; social service and technology (e.g., assistive technology) in the US; and techno-science in Chinese and Malaysian scholarship and higher education. He is currently involved in several research projects. These focus on: 1. Effective incorporation of robust social and cross-cultural perspectives into the design and implementation of computing systems, as well as education in computing (“The Strong Program in Social Computing”); 2. The implications of Free/Libre and Open Source Projects for the future dynamics of organization (“FLOSS and ‘Virtual’ Organizing: The Case of (the open sourced massive, multiplayer online game) BZ Flag”); 3. The role of and implications for computing in the recent massive but partial up-scaling of social formation reproduction (“The Cultural Construction of Demi-globalism”); and 4. What computing contributed to the current crisis and how a different approach to computing could help us get out if it (“Computing and Crisis”).
Marcus Breen, Department of Communication Studies, Northeastern University
Marcus Breen has worked as a journalist, researcher, consultant and academic in Australia, the US, Latin America and the Caribbean in and across the fields of culture industries, public policy and ICTs. He has taught at The University of Melbourne, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Northeastern University.
Special Issue: Capitalist Crisis, Communication, & Culture