Review Of Learning Immaterial Labour Media Essay

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Social networks have started to take an essential part in social relations not only with the influences on the social lives of people, but also with emergent affects of capital relations. Immaterial labour 2.0 which is used in social networks, especially in Myspace, has created the position of new directed societies. In the context of biopower and biopolitical production, information and communication technology (ICT) has become the capital area's production as Dallas Smythe states, 'audience commodity' with the usage of immaterial labour 2.0 in social networks like Myspace. Firstly, this review will summarise the study of 'Learning to Immaterial Labour 2.0: MySpace and Social Networks' (Coté and Pybus, 2007) with some critiques of the usage of immaterial labour in social networks in the context of biopower and biopolitics which will be supported by the theories of Marx and Faucault, primarily via autonomists like Lazzarato, Negri and others. Secondly, the critiques will be combined with the summary about this usage and its affects and finally, the relationship between this study and the concept of 'Formations of Identity' will be explained.


What Is MySpace ?

Myspace is not only an area in which people can communicate with each other conversationally, but also write their thoughts or share their choosen posts with friends to view and comment on. Additionally, myspace is a network of a peoples' friends so that they can reach the other people easily. Myspace has the capacity of connecting individuals among different communities at the same time and users can be online when they want to post on their or friends' homepages. Cote and Pybus emphasize people can think Myspace is their communicative interface which shows their online subjectivity and immaterial expression of their personality.

Biopower and Capital Economics

Now that the concept of MySPace has been described it is important to understand the usage of immaterial labour 2.0 within it. Coté and Pybus try to analyse this usage as a part of biopower which requires a brief analysis of Michel Faucault's acclaimed triptych of sovereign power-disciplinary power-biopower, especially within disciplinary power. Coté and Pybus highlight their proposed genealogy of the very concept of immaterial labour tends to Faucault in the context of Marxism. They maintain that individual bodies are used in order to achive capacities and abilities as well as use them in appropriate areas of society with dominative power of social body. Furthermore, Faucault states disciplinary power serves to direct and control individual's behaviour and inclinations according to society's requirements.

In this manner, disciplinary power continues to exist, but with emergening technology and capital system; the other dispositif of power, which is biopower, has become to rise. Coté and Pybus found an association between capital economics and dispositif of biopower, which have already been discovered by Faucault. He stated in the context of Autonomist Marxist concept of immaterial labour, "uses this population like a machine for production, for the production of wealth, goods and other individuals" (Faucault, 2001: 1012, cited in Coté and Pybus 2007: 93 ). Hence, Coté and Pybus highlight that the new materiality ( virtual materiality) of power stated through networked relations in populations as a dispositif of biopower. After this process, individuals have come to symbolize societies and the process has transformed to not only controlling, but also valorizing societies in the context of directed individuals and capital socio-economic framework.

Learning Immaterial Labour and Its Capacity

Cote and Pybus try to find what happens with the usage of immaterial labour in social networks by youth generation. They show youth generation has a space in communication with social networks in comparison to real world which has 'adult authority'(Boyd,2006,cited in Coté and Pybus 2007: 94). Cote and Pybus state youth generation use the social networks in order to escape from the controlled limits of home and school. In addition, they point out that if somebody wants to enter the atmosphere of MySpace, they have to have entrepreneurial skills in order to catch its popularity. In parallel, Lazzarato defines that, "continual innovation in the forms and conditions of communication…[which]gives form to and materializes needs,the imaginary,consumer tastes,and so forth,and these products in turn become powerful producers of needs,images,and tastes" (Lazzarato,1996,cited in Coté and Pybus 2007: 94).

Moreover, with the emergent usage of social networks, especially MySpace people have started to trying to advance their popularity into cyberspace, thereby becoming what Danah Boyd calls a 'digital body' (Boyd 2006,cited in Coté and Pybus 2007: 96). In turn, as Coté and Pybus states that friends of users have become to take essential part with their comments or participations on their friends' pages actively. This perception of popularity creates the situation of valorization which tends to capitalise economics in social relations. Thus, Hardt and Negri emphasize the affect of immaterial labour in social networks in the context of social relations that "[affective labour produces] social networks, forms of community, biopower [where] the instrumental action of economic production has been united with the communicative action of human relations" (Hardt and Negri, 2000: 293, cited in Coté and Pybus 2007: 96). In this manner, MySpace has an important position in the context of sharing informations in order to create appropriate digital body as Coté and Pybus support.

Immetarial Labour After Audience Commodity

Coté and Pybus try to examine how the economy, media, communication, language and subjectivity can be understood with the usage of immaterial labour in the context of social order and culture. This research calls Dallas Smythe's 'the audience commodity' which is explained that audiences are valuable service for advertisers with the affects of mass media by him. Because with the audiences' consumption and participation in social networks support the capital area and this participation show the audiences' aptitudes and capacities. There is a conceptual circumstance to biopower again. Coté and Pybus state that in order to analyse social networks, especially MySpace, not only culture, but also immaterial labour should be analysed with conception of immaterial labour and the participation of audiences on social networks actively. In short, they think this participation and construction is not commodification of audience, its immaterial labour 2.0.

Managing and Regulating the Immetarial labour in The Context of MySpace

In order to analyse MySpace in the context of managing and regulating, Coté and Pybus emphasize that MySpace is the form of emergent immaterial labour and they search that how can this user- generated content in MySpace take an essential part in marketing strategies? The example which is given in order to answer this question that Google's search tool has started to be seen on every MySpace page. In parallel, Coté and Pybus indicate social networks are not only for personal experience but also for capital relations. Moreover, after this development, other networks' tools have become to appear on MySpace page and the popularity of MySpace has become to arise day by day.

Moreover Coté and Pybus examine the strategy of emergent user-generated content in MySpace? To this DeWolfe replied, "We're not deciding what's cool.Our users are […]MySpace is all about letting people be what they want to be"(CNN Money,2006a,cited in Coté and Pybus 2007:101). In this vein, Coté and Pybus state that the process is about subjectivity and cultural commodity again. Capital markets try to catch social networks' users in order to make them more active in order to sell and advertise their products more.


In the critique of 'Learning to Immaterial Labour 2.0:MySpace and Social Networks' (Cote and Pybus,2007) two ideas will be examined in the context of immaterial labour 2.0 and social networks: MySpace.

1.Social Networks are emergent communication technology or they are only mediator for capital markets ?

Coté and Pybus refer Hardt and Negri that communication technology has been incorporated and transformed original industrial production. In parallel, they emphasizes labour has become increasingly mechanized and computerized in the context of immaterial labour 2.0, especially on MySpace. They mean with emergent participation of immaterial labour on social networks, directed and dominated society has started to arise. Because the power of developing communication technology direct the society in order to put them the place where they can be more apprepriate for capital economy. Furthermore, the situation creates the commercialization of human beings in the context of mechanized labour on social networks. Communication technology is not only used for communication between the users, but also it is used for markets in capital economy, especially with advertising and marketing strategies. Coté and Pybus supported their study especially with Dallas Smythe's the perception of 'audience commodity' which enables producibility with directed abilities and potentials in the context of productivity of immaterial labour with the usage of social networks.

On the other hand, Munro states, "on knowledge management which states that communication technology can encourage workers or 'crew members to begin constructing a common language and synchronizing their mental and physical rhythms" (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995, cited in Munro 2002: 231). Munro maintains communication techonology creates a change for knowledge flow between workers, but this comment is about industrial workplace so it does not contain post- industrial innovative workplace which is related to capital economy. Munro evaluates Hardt and Negri's studies under the influence of Faucault like Coté and Pybus and he maintains the theory of power derived from post- industrial capital relations of production. He highlights his study that, "Hardt and Negri draw on Faucault's concept of biopower, which he developed for the social practices of Eighteenth and Nineteenth century capitalism and updates the concept to be relevant for the new practices of post-industrial capitalism" ( Munro, 2002). He concludes with his idea of post- industrial networks of production and its association with biopower and directed societies like Coté and Pybus.

My study of learning immaterial labour especially with MySpace supports the idea of controlled and directed individuals on social networks and in parallel constituted societies on biopower framework if emergent capital economy's affects and capital social relations are examinated in detail. Because developing communication system does not create communication opportunities merely, it harbours immeasurable capital games behind it.

2.Participation and Being Popular through social networks

Coté and Pybus continue their study with the analyses of the participation on crowd with social networks and being popular by the help of comments or sharings on friends' pages. They think using social networks creates the position of participation and it makes the users feel more satisfactory with taking a part in something which is bigger than them. In addition, the situation gives them an energy in order to explore new techniques and communication skills. Subsequently, the desire of being popular follows the participation. Coté and Pybus state users try to make comments to their friends' pages in order to reach bigger networks and for being more popular with more participation. Popularity which comes from more comments on others pages create the perception of fame and this trend starts to expand as Coté and Pybus highlihts. Furthermore, they use the concept of 'digital body' in order the explain the usage of social networks' affects on social. (Boyd, 2006, cited in Coté and Pybus 2007: 96).

After Coté and Pybus findings, Jennings described the participation and keeping in touch with friends with comments, which is done for more popularity, as an admiration of participation. Jennings was quoted as saying;

A lot of what its younger users do on the site could be classed as hanging out.While hanging out may seem like an undirected,intangible activity,communities like MySpace provide it with tangible measures(the comments and friends listed on your profile), a social currency that enables you to display how you're in with the in crowd (2007).

Jennings promote Cote and Pybus's point of view about social networks and its usage. Moreover, in order to understand this perception, the most important word in here is 'intangible' due to the inquiry of authenticity of social networks. Are they only self disclosure of people or are they evidences of intimacy ?

At this point, this critique based on opening a MySpace account or using social networks are kinds of ways to keep attendance and reaching more people in a popular way. Therefore, the study supports Coté and Pybus' academic work. They viewed the usage of social networks according to users' subjectivity with its interior sides successfully.


Immaterial labour 2.0 is a concept which is used in social networks in developing communication technology not only on MySpace, but also every social networks in the context of user-generated content. Coté and Pybus try to define this usage and its response and affect which are able to be pointed out with economic and social modalities. The analyses of its usage from the different disciplines in depth aid in understanding the association between consumer and producer, author and audience. In this manner, this understanding assists to consolidate the position of 'Formations of Identity' in the usage of immaterial labour 2.0 on social networks which enable to be displayed identities from social networks. In short, these exhibited identities from social networks tend to be perceived by the help of economics, social relations in the context of subjectivity, communication and its development, biopower with its details, etc. Especially, subjectivity and audience commodity can be understood on MySpace in the context of the usage of social networks by the help the discipline of 'Formations of Identity' easily.