WIAS Workshop: Academic Labour, Digital Media and Capitalism
Wednesday 31 January 2018
309 Regent Street
University of Westminster
London W1B 2HW
This workshop marks the publication of the special issue "Academic Labour, Digital Media and Capitalism" in tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. We will hear presentations by experts who have contributed to the issue: guest editor Thomas Allmer (University of Stirling), Karen Gregory (University of Edinburgh) and Jamie Woodcock (LSE).
Modern universities have always been embedded in capitalism in political, economic and cultural terms. In 1971, at the culmination of the Vietnam War, a young student pointed a question towards Noam Chomsky: "How can you, with your very courageous attitude towards the war in Vietnam, survive in an institution like MIT, which is known here as one of the great war contractors and intellectual makers of this war?" Chomsky had to admit that his workplace was a major organisation conducting war research, thereby strengthening the political contradictions and inequalities in capitalist societies.
Today, universities are positioning themselves as active agents of global capital, transforming urban spaces into venues for capital accumulation and competing for international student populations for profit. Steep tuition fees are paid for precarious futures. Increasingly, we see that the value of academic labour is measured in capitalist terms and therefore subject to new forms of control, surveillance and productivity measures. Situated in this economic and political context, the new special issue of tripleC (edited by Thomas Allmer and Ergin Bulut) is a collection of critical contributions that examine universities, academic labour, digital media and capitalism.
Anger in Academic Twitter: Sharing, Caring, and Getting Mad Online
Karen Gregory, University of Edinburgh
Digital Labour in the University: Understanding the Transformations of Academic Work in the UK
Jamie Woodcock, LSE
Theorising and Analysing Academic Labour
Thomas Allmer, University of Stirling
The workshop will be chaired by WIAS Director and tripleC co-editor Christian Fuchs. WIAS invites everybody interested to attend this afternoon of talks and discussions tackling the question of academic labour in the age of digital capitalism. A coffee break is provided.
Thomas Allmer is Lecturer in Digital Media at the University of Stirling, Scotland, UK, and a member of the Unified Theory of Information Research Group, Austria. His publications include Towards a Critical Theory of Surveillance in Informational Capitalism (Peter Lang, 2012) and Critical Theory and Social Media: Between Emancipation and Commodification (Routledge, 2015). For more information, see Thomas' website.
Karen Gregory is a Lecturer in Digital Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, a digital sociologist and ethnographer. She researches the relationship between work, technology, and emerging forms of labour, exploring the intersection of work and labor, social media use, and contemporary spirituality. She is the co-editor of the book Digital Sociologies (Policy Press, 2017).
Jamie Woodcock is a fellow at the LSE and author of Working The Phones. His current research focuses on digital labour, the sociology of work, the gig economy, resistance, and videogames. He has previously worked as a postdoc on a research project about videogames, as well as another on the crowdsourcing of citizen science. Jamie completed his PhD in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London and has held positions at Goldsmiths, University of Leeds, University of Manchester, Queen Mary, NYU London, and Cass Business School.
Christian Fuchs is Professor at the University of Westminster. He is the Director of the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) and Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies (WIAS). His fields of expertise are critical digital & social media studies, Internet & society, political economy of media and communication, information society theory, social theory and critical theory. He co-edits the open-access journal triple:Communication, Capitalism & Critique with Marisol Sandoval.