Sustainable Development Goals and Communication as a Commons in the Context of Extractive Capitalism: Tensions and Possibilities

  1. Marí Sáez, Víctor Manuel 1
  1. 1 Universidad de Cádiz, Cádiz, España
Sustainable Development Goals Series

ISSN: 2523-3084 2523-3092

ISBN: 9783031191411 9783031191428

Year of publication: 2023

Pages: 85-106

Type: Book chapter

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-19142-8_4 GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openOpen access editor


The need to include sustainable development goals in the debate on the Agenda 2030 poses two primary theoretical challenges: the analysis of the basic characteristics of the current socio-political context of extractive capitalism, and the ability to consider communication in an alternative post-capitalist horizon.The first theoretical task of a contextual nature allows for identifying the basic characteristics of extractive capitalism (Gudynas, Disputes over capitalism and varieties of development. In Veltmeyer, H. & Záyago, E. (Eds.), Buen Vivir and the challenges to capitalism in Latin America (pp. 194–213). Routledge., 2020; Kidd, Extra-activism: Counter-mapping and data justice. Information Communication and Society, 22(7), 954–970., 2019) as an economic and political project diametrically opposed to that underlying the formulation of sustainable development goals. Both basic material goods (water, food, etc.) and social and communication rights are, in the framework of current capitalism, resources to be intensively exploited on the basis of a commodity logic.On the contrary, a conception of (material and social) goods and communication as a commons implies a radically alternative worldview and political horizon. This approach includes a perspective of the economy, the environment and communication which encounters in the formulation of the commons a very useful theoretical template for constructing alternatives to extractive capitalism.The subsequent development of the seminal works on the commons by authors like Hess & Ostrom (Understanding Knowledge as Commons: From Theory to Practice. MIT Press., 2007) and Benkler (Commons and growth: The essential role of open commons in market economies. University of Chicago Law Review, 80(1), 499–555, 2013) in the field of communication can provide clues for research in this regard (Fuchs, The digital commons and the digital public sphere: How to advance digital democracy today. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, 16(1), 9–26., 2021). This alternative theoretical approach is not totally new, insofar as precedents worthy of being reproduced in the current context can be found in the history of communication for development (Servaes, Approaches to development communication. UNESCO, 2002). This is the case of the dependentistas who, back in the 1960s, had already discovered the delusion of considering underdevelopment as a stage of transition towards development, challenging the basis of the modernising development model inspired by functionalism. On the basis of these elements, it is possible to provide theoretical grounds for the proposed alternative.

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