• Civilmedia 08: Day 1: Civil media: For, within, or against capitalism? (Christian Fuchs, Marisol Sandoval)
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Civilmedia 08 – „Cultures – Participaton – Dialogue“: The Civilmedia is an annual international UnConference, organised by Radiofabrik Salzburg in co-operation with VFRÖ. This year it took place at the end of the „European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008“ from 4th to 6th of December. In bringing together international and national alternative media practitioners, researchers, policy makers, activists, and community development workers, Civilmedia08 reviewed the importance of community media and Web 2.0 for intercultural dialogue in Europe. More details at. http://www.civilmedia.eu/

Contribution:
Civil media: For, within, or against capitalism? Towards a theory of critical media (Christian Fuchs, Marisol Sandoval)
In this contribution, we warn against being too optimistic about the actual democratic effects of notions like „civil media“, „Web 2.0“, „alternative media“, „grassroots media“, „participatory media“, or „participatory culture“. Applying a critical political economy approach, some data on the actual structure of contemporary media and culture are presented. We argue that given this structure, notions like „participatory culture“ have an ideological character if they overlook class relationships and capitalist ownership structures. As an alternative concept, we suggest the notion of alternative media as critical media. For defining critical media, we need to know how to understand the notion of critique. For doing so, a critical theory of society is needed. We suggest that civil media should always be analyzed in the context of capitalist society, i.e. the role they play within capitalism as potential stabilizing and destabilizing factors, and that ownership questions of the entire media industry are of central importance in analyzing civil media. Our approach wants to contribute to the social theory foundations of discussions on alternative media and civil media.
Christian Fuchs is associate professor for information and communication technologies & society at the University of Salzburg’s ICT&S Center. His fields of research are: social theory, critical theory, critique of the political economy of the media and communication, ICTs and society. He is author of the book „Internet and Society: Social Theory in the Information Age“ (Routledge 2008, see http://fuchs.icts.sbg.ac.at/i&s.html ). Website: http://fuchs.icts.sbg.ac.at
Marisol Sandoval is doctoral student and research assistant at the University of Salzburg’s ICT&S Center. Her master thesis focused on the topic „Alternative (Online-) Medien in kritischen Gesellschaftstheorien“ (Alternative (Online-) Media in critical social theories“). Her fields of resarch are: critical theory, critical media theory, alternative media.
LINK TO PRESENTATION: http://fuchs.icts.sbg.ac.at/CivilMediaCapitalismFuchsSandoval.pdf