[Air-l] viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace
christian.fuchs at sbg.ac.at
Sun Jul 1 16:52:34 PDT 2007
i have read danah's article, found it interesting and like the
conclusion that "myspace and facebook are new representations of the
class divide in american youth".
my comment goes into another direction than the discussion thus far.
for me the important aspect of the paper is that class still counts. we
should try to find ways of arguing which classes we find in contemporary
informational capitalism and how class stratification has been changing
in the age of the internet.
as i am mainly interested in and am dealing with theoretical aspects, i
have tried to tackle the issue of class in informational capitalism some
i think if we speak about class, we need a clear definition of it that
is theoreticall grounded.
basically there are two possibilities: a marxist notion of class
connects the concept to exploitation, a weberian notion to
life-situation, life-style, etc.
i find concepts of the first sort critical, of the second type
affirmative and unsuitable (e.g. the class concepts of giddens,
marx applied the class concept to the social relation constituting
surplus value production, erik olin wright added the ideas of skills
exploitation (cultural) and organizational exploitation (political),
both within strictly economic relations; bourdieu has a more general
class concept based on the idea of the asymmetric accumulation of
economic, political, cultural, and symbolic capital. hardt and negri
recently developed a nice idea of class relations constituted by
exploitation of the production of the commons.
if one can define reputation formation at the expense of others ("i am
smart cause i am on facebook, you are dumb because you are on myspace",
etc) as symbolic exploitation that reflects underlying forms of economic
oppressions then i am in favour of speaking of cultural exploitation and
class formation in the case that danah has been describing, if one can't
define what the exploited surplus that is produced by the subaltern
groups and transfered towards the hegemonic groups in such cases of
non-economic exploitation, then i am in favour of speaking of
political/organizational and cultural forms of oppression, but not of
exploitation and class-formation in danah's example.
i am actually arguing for several things:
* class should be connected to the idea of exploitation.
* we need a theory of class in the information age
* class counts
* we need neo-marxist theories of informational capitalism in order to
come to grips with the theoretical underpinnings and concrete-real
phenomena of today
the basic theoretical question about youth and class in myspace and
facebook then is:
do the facebook-upper class kids exploit the lower class myspace kids?
in which ways? (if so, we more go into a bourdieuian or wrightian sense
of exploitation and class formation) if not, then it is a form of
oppression or the division simply reflects that the parents of the
facebook kids more tend to be economic exploiters and the parents of
myspace kids more tend to be economic exploitees (which constitutes a
class concept that stays within the more traditional economic concept of
Univ.Ass. Dr. Christian Fuchs
Assistant Professor for Internet and Society
ICT&S Center - Advanced Studies and Research
in Information and Communication Technologies & Society
University of Salzburg
Sigmund Haffner Gasse 18
christian.fuchs at sbg.ac.at
Phone +43 662 8044 4823
Fax +43 662 6389 4800
Managing Editor of tripleC - peer reviewed open access
online journal for the foundations of information science:
Fuchs, Christian (2008) Internet and Society: Social Theory in the
Information Age. New York: Routledge.
More information about the Air-L