window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date());gtag('config', 'G-NQ94WFN5HF');

In the contemporary landscape, Social Network Sites (SNSs) have gained unprecedented popularity, transforming communication dynamics among individuals, primarily due to advancements in WEB 2.0 technologies. This transformation, largely documented in scholarly works (e.g., Cheung, Chiu, & Lee, 2011; Pempek, Yermolayeva, & Calvert, 2009), serves as the backdrop for a critical examination of the political economy of digital media, particularly through the lenses of Christian Fuchs and Jonathan Hardy’s seminal contributions. This paper aims to synthesize Fuchs’s and Hardy’s perspectives while maintaining a balanced critique of their theories.

Fuchs (2017) and Hardy (2014) both underscore the dominion of conglomerate corporations over the internet, spotlighting the systemic issues that mar the democratic ethos of digital platforms. Fuchs focuses on the concept of ‘digital labour’ and the exploitation inherent in internet-based companies, while Hardy discusses the structural dominance exerted by conglomerates through vertical and horizontal integration. Their critiques reveal the internet’s facade of democracy, controlled and manipulated by global corporations such as Facebook, Google, and Disney.

Fuchs (2017) argues that internet users are unwitting participants in a system of exploitation, contributing as ‘digital labourers’ by generating content without remuneration. This dynamic serves the interests of corporations, which profit immensely from user-generated data and content. Fuchs contends that this exploitation mirrors a form of modern-day slavery, with corporations reducing investment and labour costs at the expense of job destruction and the commodification of free labour.

Conversely, Hardy (2014) delves into the nuances of ‘digital inequality,’ emphasizing the socio-economic and cultural dimensions that perpetuate division and undermine democracy. He highlights the assimilation and suppression of smaller companies by conglomerates, further entrenching capitalistic dominance and stifling diversity in digital media.

Both scholars advocate for a critical reassessment of the political economy of digital media, calling attention to the systemic injustices and the illusion of democracy perpetuated by corporate interests. Their analyses converge on the need for greater awareness and critique of power dynamics within digital spaces, urging users to recognize their roles within this exploitative framework.

Moreover, Hardy (2014) addresses the transformative impact of digitalization on media, noting how it has eroded traditional monopolies and blurred the boundaries between different media platforms. This evolution, however, has facilitated the dominance of conglomerates, which have adeptly navigated and exploited these changes to maintain and expand their influence.

The paper concludes by underscoring the need for a collective reimagining of digital media’s political economy. It calls for heightened awareness and education among internet users about their complicity in sustaining the current capitalist system. By fostering a critical understanding of these dynamics, there is hope for fostering a more equitable and democratic digital landscape.


Cheung, C. M., Chiu, P.-Y., & Lee, M. K. (2011). Online social networks: Why do students use Facebook? Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 1337–1343.

Fuchs, C. (2017). Social Media: A Critical Introduction (2nd ed.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Hardy, J. (2014). Critical Political Economy of the Media: An Introduction. New York: Routledge.

Pempek, T. A., Yermolayeva, Y. A., & Calvert, S. L. (2009). College students’ social networking experiences on Facebook. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30, 227–238.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *