[Air-L] Dallas Smythe Today

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at uti.at
Wed Sep 19 02:26:18 PDT 2012

Fuchs, Christian. 2012. Dallas Smythe Today - The Audience Commodity, 
the Digital Labour Debate, Marxist Political Economy and Critical 
Theory. Prolegomena to a Digital Labour Theory of Value. tripleC – 
Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society 10 (2): 692-740.


Due to the global capitalist crisis, neoliberalism and the logic of 
commodification of everything have suffered cracks, fissures and holes. 
There is a return of the interest in Marx, which requires us to think 
about the role of Marxism in Media and Communication Studies. This paper 
contributes to this task by discussing foundations of contemporary 
Marxist media and communication studies, including a focus on the 
renewed interest in Dallas Smythe’s audience commodity category as part 
of the digital labour debate. Dallas Smythe reminds us of the importance 
of engagement with Marx’s works for studying the media in capitalism 
critically. Both Critical Theory and Critical Political Economy of the 
Media and Communication have been criticized for being one-sided. Such 
interpretations are mainly based on selective readings. They ignore that 
in both approaches there has been with different weightings a focus on 
aspects of media commodification, audiences, ideology and alternatives. 
Critical Theory and Critical Political Economy are complementary and 
should be combined in Critical Media and Communication Studies today. 
Dallas Smythe’s notion of the audience commodity has gained new 
relevance in the debate about corporate Internet services’ exploitation 
of digital labour. The exploitation of digital labour involves processes 
of coercion, alienation and appropriation.

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