Socialmedia and Transnational Capitalism

meccsaDavid presented a paper at MeCCSA in Salford, Greater Manchester, UK, entitled in January 2011.

AbstractSocial Networking Sites (SNS) have become a key component of users’ experience, not just of Web 2.0 but of the growing non-web experience of the internet represented by the ‘app’ revolution.  Whilst much has been made of the social dynamics of online SNS, the influence of the structures and operations of these sites – and the business models behind them – on users is rarely accounted for.  This paper argues that behind the social behaviours supported by SNS, there is a growing shift towards viewing online communities as commodities, and SNS as an extension of mainstream capitalist ideologies fostered by existing patterns of commercialization and consumption.  Further, the ‘open, free web’ of yesteryear is increasingly being replaced in the daily usage of social networkers by walled garden apps with a clearer, more straightforward business model. Using the works of Gramsci, Althusser and Gill to provide a critical grounding, this paper will explore the popular SNS site ‘Facebook’ and access to it through the popular iPhone app on the Apple mobile OS.  In doing so, it argues that offline capitalist ideology is achieving hegemony in online social spaces by appropriating and absorbing existing notions of online ‘friendship’ and community, and repackaging and reselling them back as part of everyday life in a technological, capitalistic society.  SNS may feel to the users to be free, social, personal, but in fact SNS are business as usual.


Kreps, D (2011) ‘Socialmedia and Transnational Capitalism’. Paper delivered at Media Communications & Cultural Studies Association conference (MeCCSA) Salford, UK, Jan 2011.

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