Download Social Media a Critical Introduction PDF

TitleSocial Media a Critical Introduction
File Size3.9 MB
Total Pages305
Table of Contents
1. What is a Critical Introduction to Social Media?
I: Foundations
2. What is Social Media?
3. Social Media as Participatory Culture
4. Social Media and Communication Power
II: Applications
5. The Power and Political Economy of Social Media
6. Google: Good or Evil Search Engine?
7. Facebook: A Surveillance Threat to Privacy?
8. Twitter and Democracy: A New Public Sphere?
9. WikiLeaks: Can We Make Power Transparent?
10. Wikipedia: A New Democratic Form of Collaborative Work and Production?
III: Futures
11. Conclusion: Social Media and its Alternatives – Towards a Truly Social Media
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Cover image © Gaetan Charbonneau / Millennium Images. UK
Cover design by Jen Crsip

ISBN-13: 978-1-4462-5731-9

‘This is the most complete and wide-ranging discussion of social media there is.
An introduction not only to social media, but to critical theory and how it relates to
contemporary digital culture, this book astutely illuminates an increasingly important
social phenomenon that has become an integral part of modern daily living.’
Vincent Miller, University of Kent

‘Until now, philosophical contributions to understanding the newer media have been
trivially apolitical. Finally, in the assured hands of Christian Fuchs, readers have a
brilliant introduction to the field that is as astute as it is engaged.’
Toby Miller, University of California, Riverside

‘Christian Fuchs has turned his considerable talents to that rarest of academic
creations: a truly, unabashedly critical textbook on a timely and important topic for
contemporary media studies. For anyone who wants to think about issues of power
and social justice, for anyone who wants to challenge themselves to re-imagine the
possibilities of the digital era, and for anyone looking for an alternative to the anodyne
and borderline fan-like writing that has become the stuff of new media textbooks, this
is the book for you.’
Mark Andrejevic, University of Queensland

Now more than ever, we need to understand social media – the good as well as the bad.
We need critical knowledge to help us navigate the controversies and contradictions
of this complex digital media landscape. Only then can we make informed judgements
about what’s happening in our media world, and why.

Showing the reader how to ask the right kinds of questions about social media,
Christian Fuchs takes us on a journey across platforms, delving deep into case
studies on Google, Facebook, Twitter, WikiLeaks and Wikipedia. The result lays bare
the structures and power relations at the heart of our media landscape.

This book is the essential, critical guide for all students of media studies and sociology.
Readers will never look at social media the same way again.

Christian Fuchs is Professor of Social Media at the University of Westminster.

Social M

Christian Fuchs

Social Media
a critical introduction

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Google: Good or Evil Search Engine? 143

Most postings say nothing about working time, but rather focus on aspects
such as free food. They therefore had to be excluded from the working time

In the conducted analysis, 18 postings mentioned positive aspects of work-
ing time at Google: 14 (78%) of them said that they value that there are flexible
working times. A minority said that there is a good work–life balance (3, 17%)
or that they work a regular eight hours a day (1, 5%). Fifty-eight postings men-
tioned negative aspects of working times at Google. The issue that all of these
58 postings exclusively focused on in relation to working time were long work-
ing hours and a resulting bad work–life balance. I have summarized typical
comments in Table 6.4.

The picture that emerges from this analysis is that people tend to work long
hours at Google, feel that the nice working environment that features free food,
sports facilities, restaurants, cafés, events, tech-talks and other perks encourages
employees to stay and work longer, that working long hours is not something
that is formally dictated by the management, but that it is rather built into the
company culture so that there is a lot of competitive peer-pressure to work long
hours, and that one tends not to have enough time to make use of the 20% work
for one’s own projects or has to add these hours to more than 100% of working
time. Google indirectly admits when describing its company culture that working
days can be atypical: “Despite our size and expansion, Google still maintains a
start-up culture. Google is not a conventional corporation, and our workdays are
not the typical 9 to 5.”12

Working Long Hours? Never Mind, just Sleep under
your Desk, as Former Google Vice-President
Marissa Mayer Does…
Where can long working hours lead to? To the fact that employees sleep under
their desks in order to maximize performance. Former Google vice-president
Marissa Mayer reports about her time at Google: “Part of Google was it was the
right time and we had a great technology, but the other part was we worked
really, really hard. [. . .] It was 130 hour weeks. People say, ‘there’s only 168 hours
in a week, how can you do it?’ Well, if you’re strategic about when you shower
and sleeping under your desk, it can be done”.13 The ultimate consequence of
such behaviour is that there is no life outside Google – life becomes Google and
is, thereby, one-dimensional.

On the one hand, Google employees tend to have long working hours and
a lot of overtime, whereas on the other hand, office hours are completely flex-
ible and management does not see it as a negative feature if somebody does not
work from 9 to 5. What is very striking about Google is a management strategy
that uses soft and social forms of coercion: there is no formal contractual

12 Google culture., accessed on March 15, 2013.
Marissa-Mayer-Manages-Burnout, accessed on March 16, 2013.

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Table 6.4 A selection of typical comments of Google employees about working hours

ID Comment

5 I don’t have much of a social life yet (workin’ on it) so I tend to be at the office at
retarded hours. […] People don’t look twice when I show up at noon. :3

6 The downside to google, you’re asking? That’s easy. Everything they do for you
is in the interest of keeping you in the office as much as possible. They’ll give you
breakfast, lunch, dinner (all delicious, no crap). There’s gyms, they’ll do your laundry,
they’ll get you a massage, you can play sports, you can bring a pet. So for some
people this is AWESOME. All I see is a bunch of people who are at the office
50–70 hours a week of their own volition, and don’t separate their work from their
everyday life.

7 It’s not uncommon for people to be there late, work late @home, and work a few hours
over the weekend.

8 By the end my typical day was 14 hours long and I was starting to underperform on my
primary responsibilities. […] The fast pace and competitive environment simply make it
an easy trap for Googlers to fall into.

9 Google is specifically catering to people who work very long hours. The breakfast is
at 8:30, and the dinner is at 6:30 (and it’s considered tacky to eat dinner and leave
right away).

14 The food was great, and while I stayed in the office for long hours every day, my
work schedule didn’t feel oppressive to me, simply because it was such a nice work

17 In my group, people usually work from 9:00am to 7:00pm everyday.

24 Everybody is very very career focused, they mostly dont have any other aspiration in
life. So they spent a lot of hour in office. And it creates tremendous peer pressure. […]
If you want a stable work pressure, with stable work life balance, and other interest
than the job, this is not your place for sure.

26 All the benefits are designed to get you to work more.

27 Cons – Too much time spent at work (50–60hrs/week).

29 Cons – over-time work. seems everyone works late on weekends.

32 Cons – too much time spent on work, sometimes too much time thinking of work even
when you’re out.

33 The opportunities for 20% time are real, but you may not have enough time and energy
to make use of them.

35 Also, the availability of free food, gym, etc. on campus and the plenty of fun
distractions on its corp network make it easy to spend more time there.

37 Cons – Company policy, not that fun when you working, pressure, dead line, pushing,
sometime you have to give up some life for the work.

38 Pros – The free food is good. Cons – The working hours are long. The pay is not worth
all the time spent at work. Management is not great.

43 Cons – too much work and very weird hours! Advice to Senior Management – have a
good work life balance.

45 “Death march” schedules and random priority changes becoming more common

47 Bad balance between work and personal life.

49 Cons – Growth within the company is difficult unless you’re prepared to sacrifice
personal life and sleep.


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