Friday, 12 July 2019

2nd Op-ed in Globe & Mail newspaper

My second op-ed in Canada's Globe & Mail newspaper came out a month or so ago. It's called "Five reasons Canada’s Digital Charter will be a bust before it even gets going":
"At the launch of Canada’s new Digital Charter on May 20, federal Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains described “data” as akin to “new electricity” on Twitter. People love a good metaphor when talking about new technologies, especially politicians. Take our personal data: Writers in international magazines such as The Economist and Wired have called it an untapped asset, the “new oil” of the 21st century.."
Read the rest here.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Reviews so far: "A Research Agenda for Neoliberalism"

Here are some reviews of my book A Research Agenda for Neoliberalism, which is actually out in paperback now, so at least somewhere near affordable if anyone is interested in it.

I thought I'd put the reviews in one place, probably more for my own benefit than anyone else. I'll add to them as more come in; or should that be, if more come in! 
  • Christopher May (Lancaster, UK) in LSE Review of Books (2018) - see here.
  • Stephanie Mudge (UC Davis, USA) - in economic sociology_the european electronic newsletter (2018) - see here 
  • Giorgio Baruchello (Akureyri,Iceland ) in Economics, Management, and Financial Markets (2018) - see here [this is a slightly odd one in my view]
  • Lars Cornelissen (Brighton, UK) in Journal of Political Power (2019) - see here
I know there's another critical one coming my way soon, as I was invited to write a response to it, so I'll add that once it's up online.

More to come ... hopefully!

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Some interesting books...

It's been a while since I've actually written anything resembling a blog post, as opposed to some sort of publicity for an event or publication I'm involved in. So, I thought I'd do one today!

Since it's the start of a new year, and everyone else seems to do this sort of thing round about now, I thought I'd create a short listicle of interesting (academic) books I've read over the last year (although my memory is a little hazy so it might end up being the last two years).

- Mariana Mazzucato (2018) The Value of Everything: it's nice to see a book like this come out and receive serious mainstream attention, since it touches on a range of issues that'll come more to the fore in coming years (not that they've been missing, just under-appreciated) - this includes, problems with tech monopolies, accounting standards, financial logics, rentiership, etc.

- Philip Mirowski & Edward Nik-Khah (2017) The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information: this is a really fascinating intellectual history of the way 'knowledge' has been conceptualized in economics (& in different, contrasting ways to book), stretching back to Hayek's original formulation of the "Problem of knowledge" (1945). It's relevant across a range of topics, but I find it most interesting when trying to think through some of the current issues with social media and the way we can 'game' the system - see this classic example here, "The Shed in Dulwich". Basically, knowledge is often treated as an unreconstructed object, rather than a reflexive and dynamic interplay between social actors who are always reinterpreting what each other claims. Great read.

- Aaron Perzanowski & Jason Schultz (2016) The End of Ownership: an in-depth look at how personal property is changing in contemporary, technoscientific capitalism - & the implications of this. It examines changing digital property relations when it comes to intellectual property as well as copying, cloud and streaming platforms, digital rights management, internet of things, and so on. I'd describe it as an eye-opener for anyone interested in where we might all end up.

- Jonathan Haskel & Stian Westlake (2018) Capitalism without Capital: this book delves in all the issues I'm currently interested in; intangibles, their valuation, accounting practices, investment dynamics, etc., etc. It also deals with the consequences of the 'rise of the intangibles economy' - their sub-title - such as monopoly (again!), inequality, productivity collapse, rent-seeking, etc.

None of these books is, by any standards, perfect, or without flaws, but they all offer a useful addition to the literature about contemporary, technoscientific capitalism - how we got here, what are the implications, how we might mitigate the worse effects, and so on.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Op-ed in Globe & Mail newspaper

My first op-ed in Canada's Globe & Mail newspaper is just out. It's called "We must consider what can happen if our personal data become a private asset":
"The promises attached to smart cities, smart networks and new industrial revolutions are premised on the transformation of our personal data into private assets. Economists and business commentators argue that this transformation is essential for the future success of countries like Canada."
Read the rest here.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Friday, 3 November 2017

Repost from Conversation Canada: What exactly is neoliberalism?

What exactly is neoliberalism?




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Paper chains hang on the White House fence in Washington in October 2010 during a demonstration against the IMF and World Bank neoliberal economic policies during their annual meeting. Has the term neoliberalism run its course? (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Kean Birch, York University, Canada

I struggle with neoliberalism – as a problematic economic system we might want to change – and as an analytical term people increasingly use to describe that system.

I’ve been reading and writing about the concept for more than a decade. But the more I read, the more I think that neoliberalism is losing its analytical edge.

As a result of its growing popularity in academia, media and popular discussions, it’s crucial to understand neoliberalism as a concept. We need to know its origins and its definition in order to understand our current political and economic mess, including the rise of nativism that played a part in Brexit and Donald Trump’s election a year ago.

Neoliberalism is regularly used in popular debate around the world to define the last 40 years. It’s used to refer to an economic system in which the “free” market is extended to every part of our public and personal worlds. The transformation of the state from a provider of public welfare to a promoter of markets and competition helps to enable this shift.

Neoliberalism is generally associated with policies like cutting trade tariffs and barriers. Its influence has liberalized the international movement of capital, and limited the power of trade unions. It’s broken up state-owned enterprises, sold off public assets and generally opened up our lives to dominance by market thinking.

As a term, neoliberalism is increasingly used across popular media, including The New York Times, The Times (of London) and The Daily Mail. It’s also used within international institutions like the World Economic Forum, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Monetary Fund.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

New blog for Department of Business & Politics at CBS

This is just a short blog for the Department of Business & Politics at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. The blog focuses on my future research agenda around rentiership - or the 'dark side' of entrepreneurship and innovation. I spent 3 months at DBP this year as a visiting scholar and really benefited from the intellectual environment in the department and wider business school - as well as really enjoying Copenhagen as a city. This is just a taster of a paper I wrote while there:
"I want to start this blog by writing about tractors. Writing on the Motherboard website, Jason Koebler argues that American farmers are buying black-market software from Ukraine in order to hack their John Deere – and other manufacturer – tractors because those manufacturers have made it increasingly legally difficult to do “unauthorized repairs” on those tractors. This is because, as part of their license agreements with tractor manufacturers, farmers are forbidden from “tampering” with their tractor’s software. It all sounds like the plot of a William Gibson novel".

Rest of the blog can be read here.