Wednesday, 21 December 2016

4S Open Track Proposal: "Technoscience Rent"

4S Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 30 August - 2 September 2017


Technoscience Rent


Kean Birch, York University, Canada


Steve Fuller, University of Warwick, UK


As an increasing number of 'things' (e.g. infrastructure, student debt, medical care, personal data, sunlight, etc.) are turned into assets, it is necessary to work out how value is appropriated from those assets through new forms of 'rentiership' (or rent-seeking). Often presented as the dark side of innovation and entrepreneurship, rent-seeking comes in many forms, including: government fiat (e.g. GHG emissions); monopoly (e.g. intellectual property); organizational arrangements (e.g. business models); and market configurations (e.g. value chains and networks, platforms). It is helpful to build on and go beyond the assumptions built into both Marxist and neoclassical economic literatures that rent-seeking is a problematic activity that distorts or corrupts the ‘naturalized’ working of capitalism or free markets. As such, the purpose of this open panel is to consider these different forms of rentiership as they constitute and are constituted by different forms of technoscience, in order to unpack the concept analytically and empirically and its political and normative implications for science, technology, and innovation. The panel welcomes papers on different forms of rentiership in technoscience, different conceptions of rentiership drawing on Marxist, neoclassical, and other traditions, and discussions of the analytical, political, and normative usefulness of rentiership as a concept.


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Birch, K. (2017), Financing technoscience: Finance, assetization and rentiership, in D. Tyfield, R. Lave, S. Randalls and C. Thorpe (eds), The Routledge Handbook of the Political Economy of Science, London: Routledge.
Birch, K., Tyfield, D. and Chiapetta, M. (2017) From neoliberalizing research to researching neoliberalism: STS, rentiership and the emergence of commons 2.0, in D. Cahill, M. Konings and M. Cooper (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Neoliberalism, London: SAGE.
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