Cognitive capitalism, free labor, and financial communication: A critical discourse analysis of social media IPO registration statements
This article seeks to analyze the intersection among cognitive capitalism, free labor, and financial communication through a critical discourse analysis of social media companies’ initial public offering (IPO) registration statements. In so doing, it first sets up a theoretical framework by synthesizing cognitive capitalism and cultural political economy. Cultural political economy helps analyze critically the role financial communication plays in serving the interests of cognitive capitalism, the use of unremunerated immaterial labor to rescue the stationary capitalist accumulation regime. Then, a critical discourse analysis of social media IPOs, as a form of financial communication, aims to unravel how social media companies appropriate such notions as economic growth, innovation, connectivity, and community to advance their financial interests. Findings reveal that IPO statements deploy social media as an autonomous agent of economic growth and a virtuous venue for self-expression and community building, while at the same time effectively concealing the dual foundations of the social media economy, the wide use of free labor and the extraction of value via user data.
Information Communication and Society
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Siho Nam (2020) Cognitive capitalism, free labor, and financial communication: A critical discourse analysis of social media IPO registration statements, Information, Communication & Society, 23:3, 420-436, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2018.1510535