Christian Fuchs – Internet and Society, Social Theory in the Information Age

Christian Fuchs

Routledge, ISBN 9780415961325, U.S.A., 2008, English
Christian Fuchs is a young and talented Austrian social scientist who focuses his research on information-society theory. In this text he’s constructing a social theory of the Internet. Relating to what is commonly referred to as “social informatics”, he begins to discuss concepts and historical applications of self-organization and self-cooperation in society considered as a system, and how communication is a very distinctive element here. The work also reflects on the idea of information as capital, and discusses the effects of the antithetical production models of competition and collaboration, both of which have been implemented in the internet economy. But what is remarkable is how the author is able to scientifically apply Marxism, the doctrines of the Frankfurt School and, in particular, the theory of Herbert Marcuse, to these contemporary phenomena. His analysis, in fact, proves the impact of information and communication technologies on the four cornerstones of contemporary society: the ecological, economic, political, and cultural systems. This study reveal many interesting, interconnected facts, such as Flusser’s analysis of the similarities between amphitheatre discourse and network dialogue, and the “networked” guerrilla concept of Che Guevara, in a general frame that lies on “the antagonism between sustainable potentials and unsustainable realities” (in his own words). It’s an impressive text, sometimes with a classically dense academic structure of references, but it is able to comprehensively discuss society and contemporaneity using well-established philosophical tools, with a surprisingly clear and rich outcome.