Author ORCID Identifier : Vincent Manzerolle

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Contribution to Book

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Publication Title

Media and Digital Labour: Western Perspectives

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This paper re-examines the work of Dallas Smythe in light of the popularization of Internetenabled mobile devices (IMD). In an era of ubiquitous connectivity Smythe’s prescient analysis of audience ‘work’ offers a historical continuum in which to understand the proliferation of IMDs in everyday life. Following Smythe’s line of analysis, this paper argues that the expansion of waged and unwaged digital labour facilitated by these devices contributes to the overall mobilization of communicative, cognitive and co-operative capacities--capacities central to the accumulation strategies of ‘informational capitalism.’ As such, the rapid uptake of these devices globally is an integral component in this mobilization and subsumption. In the case of Smythe’s provocative (and somewhat controversial) concept of the audience commodity, the work of the audience is materially embedded in, and articulated by, the capitalist application of communication technologies. Consonant with Smythe’s emphasis on the centrality of communication and related technologies in the critical analysis of contemporary political economies, this paper elaborates upon the concept of digital labour by rethinking Smythe’s theory of the audience commodity as a central principle organizing the technical and social evolution of IMDs.


“Mobilizing the Audience Commodity 2.0: Digital Labour and Always-On Media.” In Media and Digital Labour: Western Perspectives, edited by J. Yao and V. Mosco. The Commercial Press. 2018.