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[liberationtech] WIAS Workshop: Academic Labour, Digital Media and Capitalism

Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies westminster.ias at
Mon Jan 15 06:04:46 PST 2018

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

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

Workshop presentations:

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.
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