Joseph F. Turcotte, PhD

Home » Digital Economy » My Latest: Review of ‘Networking Peripheries:Technological Futures and the Myth of Digital Universalism’

My Latest: Review of ‘Networking Peripheries:Technological Futures and the Myth of Digital Universalism’

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“The popular imaginary surrounding the digital, knowledge-based economy (DKE) largely consists of celebratory appraisals of an unfolding political-economic situation based on the “creative destruction” of existing economic and social practices facilitated by the informationalization of previously uncommodified aspects of human existence and social life. From the digital innovation capitals of Western “developed” states, a purportedly universal ethos of technologically facilitated economic growth and human developmentis diffused outward, as transnational financial,trade, and consumer markets are reorganized according to the efficiency gains offered by scalable networked information and communication technologies (ICTs). Creative classes (Florida, 2014), creative economies (UNESCO/UNDP, 2013), and so-called platform economics (Evans, 2011) are celebrated for their purportedly liberating and democratizing effects. Yet, some twenty years afterthe “digital economy” (Tapscott,1996; see also Bell,1976) was first announced and nearly a decade since the “Great Recession,” the global economy itself and the economic prospects of a number of states remain mired in stagnant growth—or worse. In this context, critical scholarship focused on this particular version of the DKE, which had largely been overshadowed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has received renewed attention and is providing theoretical lenses for analyzing the claims made by techno-optimists as well as the actions taken by businesses, governments, and international organizations seeking to investin and benefitfrom transforming political-economic structurations (cf. Fuchs & Winseck, 2011; Huws, 2015; Morozov, 2013; Ouellet, 2010; Parayil, 2005). The theoretical lens of “informational capitalism” (Fuchs, 2010; Kundnani, 1999) helps foreground concerns about inequitableDKE-based arrangements, highlighting how (and why) knowledge-based resources are converted into informational commodities, which are then marketed and exchanged in transnational trade-based networks, without necessarily benefiting the producers or consumers of these goods and services”

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