Keynote speaker

Christian Fuchs

Christian Fuchs is Chair Professor of Media Systems and Media Organisation at Paderborn University’s Department of Media Studies. Prior to taking up this position, he was Professor of Media, Communication & Society and Professor of Social Media at the University of Westminster. He is editor of the open access media and communication studies journal tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique.

Keynote talk

Humanity, Alienation and (In)justice in the Digital Age

This talk asks and deals with the following question: How can we understand and explain the challenges humanity is facing today in the light of digitalisation?

First, the speaker argues that we need a critical theory of communication and society and that such a theory can in a feasible manner be based on insights from, updates and the further development of approaches that come from a variety of approaches in critical thought, theory and philosophy. The presenter advances an approach to research that stands in the tradition of Critical Political Economy of Communication and combines critical theory, critical empirical social research, and critical ethics. In this context, the notions of radical (digital) humanism, social production, work, injustice as alienation, domination, exploitation, social struggles, media/communication/digital (in)justice, and democratic socialism/socialist democracy play an important role.

Second, the talk discusses the question: In what kind of societies do we live? It outlines some aspects of the notion of digital capitalism and compares it to other concepts such as the network society (Castells), surveillance capitalism (Zuboff), and platform capitalism (Srnicek).

Third, the talk will present aspect of specific case studies that deal with questions of humanity, justice, and democracy in the digital age. The discussed cases will include the digital mediation of death and labour in the context of COVID-19; a critique of big data-based computational social science research methods; reflections on the political economy of the decolonisation of Media and Communication Studies; reflections on trends in academic publishing and open access publishing in the age of digital capitalism; the spread of false news, authoritarianism, nationalism, racism, patriarchy and fascism online; and discourses on digital, AI-based automation. All of these and other cases pose in one way or another the question: How have humanity and the role of humans in society been transformed in the digital age?

Fourth, the presentation will engage with the question of what alternatives there are to the explosion of a variety of forms of (digital) injustice and (digital) alienation that we are experiencing throughout the world today and what role communication and digitalisation play in this context. A key question in this context is how to organise communications, media systems and the Internet in a just manner. The presenter will discuss the role of mediated social struggles, platform co-operatives, and the Public Service Internet.