digital economy

Social structures built on other social structures

My book Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy argues that we should explain the economy in terms of complexes of appropriative practices, while my earlier work stresses that causal influence is exerted by entities – people, objects, and social entities like organisations (which are in turn composed of people and often objects too). In this post I propose to explain the relation between the two – and the explanation is of wider importance because it leads us to think about how some social structures can be built on or from other social structures.

We need to move on from existing theories of the economy

Neither the traditional economist’s focus on firms in markets nor the Marxist political economist’s focus on exploitation of wage labour by capital is a viable way of understanding the real economy. This posts proposes some steps towards an alternative view.

Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy: extract from chapter 1

This post reproduces text from the opening pages of my 2016 book Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy. The central original contribution of this book is to propose a new framework that enables us both to see and to analyse a vast range of diverse economic forms, and to illustrate that framework by applying it to cases in the contemporary digital economy.

Does Google give gifts?

Google’s business hybridises a novel form of giving with a novel form of advertising in one of many economic forms that simply do not fit with the old understandings of the economy: forms that we can make more sense of as complexes of interacting economic practices.