[Air-l] viewing American class divisions through Facebook andMySpace

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at sbg.ac.at
Tue Jul 3 05:33:27 PDT 2007

nsenga at mediom.qc.ca schrieb:
> Hello, Christian and everybody!
> You wrote:
> "basically there are two possibilities: a marxist notion of class 
> connects the concept to exploitation, a weberian notion to 
> life-situation, life-style, etc."
> What about a third view, simply descriptive of the core of the entire
> (human) social life? That of Veblen's distinction between the class of
> those engaged in daily bread-earning activities on one hand, and on the
> other the class of those involved (or aspiring to be) in "conspicuous 
> consumption". I guess both FB and MS people would then 
> belong to the second same class, as mere sub-classes!
> François Nsenga
> Montréal, Canada
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Dear François and list,

if i understand right, then veblen suggests that there is the working 
class and the leisure class or luxury class. sounds like a combination 
of marx and bourdieu, the first category is economic, the second 
cultural. i think bourdieu has a better distinction than veblen with his 
categories of economic, political, cultural, and symbolic capital that 
are accumulated and at the heart of class formation processes.
the problem with bourdieu is that he never makes clear if these 
processes can all be interpreted as exploitation processes. the reason 
why i want to stress linking the category of class to exploitation is 
the normative value that the concept then gains, deconstructing the 
notion that science can ever be value-neutral by opposing the bourgeois 
pseudo-neutrality by a more radical concept that is politically loaded 
and implies the sublation of capitalism and the abolition of classes.
so the theoretical problem is to interpret cultural classes as exploited 
classes. so what is first needed is a definition of exploitation and in 
contrast to it eventually of oppression. my feeling is that exploitation 
always involves the transfer of surplus (which can be material, 
symbolic, etc).
i am not sure if veblen can help, how exactly does he define classes?
after defining class, one can think about how applying the concept to 
social networks like myspace.





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

5020 Salzburg


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:


Forthcoming BOOK:

Fuchs, Christian (2008) Internet and Society: Social Theory in the 
Information Age. New York: Routledge.

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