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There have been numerous studies done on social media or communication in general. However, most of these studies have neglected a recent and critical element of social media- Social Media Commerce. The present book is one of the first books to focus strictly and solely upon this phenomenon of social accumulation of profits through promoting commercial activities on social media. In this regard, the book presents itself to be a pioneering study within Digital Capitalism Studies.
The introduction will lay out the basics of how communication is being used by capitalism to further oppression and exploitation. It will primarily talk about digital capitalism and the relationship which digital capitalism shares with labour within the society. The introduction will provide a basic framework within which the subsequent chapters can be located. Some of the concepts and ideas which will be highlighted in the introduction are:
- Digital Capitalism
- Usage of Communication as a means of production
- Societal Alienation within digital capitalism
- The element of “Accumulation” within digital capitalism and its importance within capitalism.
The introduction will also provide an overview of Marxist-Humanist theory along with a brief history of its formation. The chapter will initially highlight some of the aspects of the work of Raya Dunayevskaya, the pioneer of the Marxist-Humanist theory. Taking cue from that, the chapter will then mainly discuss Henri Lefebvre, Herbert Marcuse and Erich Fromm, especially the aspects of their work relevant to current book. The chapter will also point out theoretical advances made by contemporary Marxist-Humanists like Kevin Anderson and Peter Hudis.
The first chapter looks at the element of social media commerce in general. It will, at first, explain the fundamental aspects of “Social Media Commerce” and its differences with other modes of digital commercial activities such as e-commerce websites and used-goods-digital storefronts. It will present a chronological description of the evolution of social media commerce, specifically ‘Facebook marketplace’. The chapter will explore the political economic perspective of this mode of commerce and its intersections with the revenue model based on targeted advertisements. The chapter will introduce some of the central concepts used in the book, namely:
- Social Media Commerce
- Real Subsumption
- Social Media as a techno-social system
The second chapter will emphasise the theory of ‘property’. It will highlight the various theories regarding how property has been conceptualised.
This chapter will lay out the differences between personal and private property within capitalist social structures. The chapter will take references primarily from Marx’s Capital (All 3 Volumes) along with some of Engels’ works. In addition, the chapter will also provide an overview of the anarchist idea of property, mainly focusing on Proudhon and his debate with Marx and Engels. The final section of this chapter will also outline a theory of ‘digital and information’ property, which will be engaged with in details
The third chapter will focus on the usage of social media commerce within the Global North, primarily focusing on the study conducted by the author in Aotearoa New Zealand. The chapter will talk about how social crisis and human needs play a part in making these practices popular within the non-capitalist classes. Apart from the general results of the study which has used volunteer sampling and in-depth interviews to gather the qualitative data, two detailed accounts of social media commercial sellers will also be included. One of the two subjects of the study is an immigrant from the east, which will aid in establishing the relationship between race and social media commerce.
The chapter will emphasise the concept of “Property” within capitalism and the relationship between personal and private property from a political economic perspective. The chapter will analyse the relationship between these digital platforms and the other tangible methods of profit accumulation within capitalist and semi-capitalist economies. Finally, the chapter will put forward how under real subsumption, contemporary capitalism has transformed itself by inventing new modes of accumulation, which hinge upon dissolving the differences between personal and private property holdings.
The final pre-conclusive chapter attempts to provide an overview of how accumulation proceeds through social media within the Global South. This chapter will be primarily based on the study conducted by the author within the city of Hyderabad in India, with questions similar to those used in the case of the Global North. This chapter will emphasise upon the concept of “freedom” from a Hegelian-Marxist perspective and its manipulation within social media commerce by capitalism. The methodology adopted for the chapter will remain same as that of the previous chapter, i.e., volunteer sampling along with in-depth interviews, a rationale for which will be provided.
The chapter will analyse, or rather evaluate, the various elements of socio-economic crisis and human needs, as laid out in the previous chapter, within the context of the Global South. In doing so, this chapter will present a comparative analysis of social media commerce and its associated processes within the Global North and the Global South. The chapter will emphasise the various aspects of social structures, which play a pivotal role within capitalist accumulation processes. Specifically speaking, the third chapter will be about creating an intellectual dialogue between the Global North and the Global South, in terms of the relevance and usage of social media commerce by capitalism in both the contexts.
The conclusion will start with putting forward the importance of digital spaces within the general social space. Taking cue from this, the conclusion will talk about how abject alienation within the social spaces renders the alienation within these digital spaces invisible. The chapter will mainly focus on the perspectives developed by Raya Dunayevskaya and Henri Lefebvre, in putting forward a Marxist-Humanist account of contemporary capitalist exploitation within digital capitalism. The conclusion will bring out the importance of human subjectivity in addressing the questions of capitalist exploitation.
The conclusion will also focus on the factors of the successes of models like AIRBNB, in the Global North, and Oyo Rooms, in India. By doing so the conclusion will present a causal relationship between social alienation and the success of these models of capitalist exploitation. At the end, the conclusion will proceed towards analysing the usage of established communicative networks by capitalism to exploit the working class both digitally and physically, and the need of addressing this mode of exploitation from a Marxist-Humanist perspective, which takes an adequate cognisance of both human subjectivity and political economy.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Marxist-Humanist Theory
Chapter 1 Social Media and the Commerce Therein
Chapter 2 The Theory of Property
Chapter 3 Accumulation in the Global North
Chapter 4 Accumulation in the Global South
Conclusion: Marxist-Humanist Approach to the Issue