Towards Marxian Internet Studies

  • Christian Fuchs Uppsala University, Department of Informatics and Media
Keywords: Critical Internet Studies, Critical Cyberculture Studies, Critical Theory of the Internet, Critical Political Economy of the Internet, Karl Marx, Marx is Back


This article gives an overview of example approaches of Critical Internet Studies and points out key concepts of this field. Critical Cyberculture Studies and Critical Political Economy/Critical Theory of the Internet are identified as two approaches in Critical Internet Studies. The paper also discusses the role of 11 Marxian concepts for Critical Internet Studies. Marxian concepts that have been reflected in Critical Internet Studies include: dialectics, capitalism, commodification, surplus value/exploitation/alienation/class, globalization, ideology, class struggle, commons, public sphere, communism, and aesthetics. The paper points out the importance of explicitly acknowledging the importance of Karl Marx’s thinking in Critical Internet Studies. Marx’s concepts are today frequently used implicitly, without acknowledging and engaging with their roots. A critique of the approach of “Critical” Cyberculture Studies is advanced. This approach is compared to the approaches of Critical Theory and Critical Political Economy of the Internet. The difference between these two approaches reflects the debate about class exploitation and non-class domination between Cultural Studies and Critical Political Economy in Media and Communication Studies.

Author Biography

Christian Fuchs, Uppsala University, Department of Informatics and Media
Christian Fuchs is professor and chair in media and communication studies at Uppsala University's Department of Informatics and Media. He is board member of the Unified Theory of Information Research Group and editor of tripleC (cognition, communication, co-operation): Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society. He holds a venia docendi in the field of ICTs and society.
His research interests are: critical theory, social theory, media and society, ICTs and society, information society theory/research, political economy. He is author of many publications in these fields, including the books 'Internet and Society: Social Theory in the Information Age' (Routledge 2008), which presents a social theory of contemporary society with a special consideration of media, information, and technology, and the book 'Foundations of Critical Media and Information Studies' (Routledge 2011), which is an introduction to the theoretical and methodological foundations of critical media studies and critical information science.
He is co-ordinator of the research project 'Social Networking Sites in the Surveillance Society' (funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF) and management committee member of the EU COST Action 'Living in Surveillance Societies'. He co-edited the EU COST volume ";Internet and Surveillance. The Challenges of Web 2.0 and Social Media"; (Routledge 2011).
Marx is Back-The Importance of Marxist Theory and Research for Critical Comm. Studies Today, ed C. Fuchs & Vincent Mosco