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Matthew David – Sharing: Crime Against Capitalism

Research Seminar – Wednesday 17 May, 16:00, Room F111 (Fusion Building)

Today’s economic system premised on the sale of physical goods does not fit the information age in which we live. The capitalist order requires the maintenance of an artificial scarcity in goods that have the potential for near infinite and almost free replication. The sharing of informational goods through distributed global networks – digital libraries, file-sharing, live-streaming, free software, free-access publishing, the free-sharing of scientific knowledge, and open source pharmaceuticals – not only challenges the dominance of a scarcity based economic system, but also enables a more efficient, innovative, just and free culture. In a series of seven explorations of contemporary sharing, this paper shows that in each case sharing surpasses markets, private ownership and intellectual property rights in fostering motivation, creativity, innovation, production, distribution and reward. In transforming the idea of an information economy into an information society, sharing connects struggles against inequality and poverty in developed and developing countries. Challenging taken-for-granted justifications of the status quo, the paper debunks the ‘tragedy of the commons’ and makes the case for digital network sharing as a viable mode of economic counterpower, prefiguring a post-capitalist society.

Sharing: Crime Against Capitalism is Matthew David’s forthcoming new book. Please email Claudy Op den Kamp if you wish to access a pre-print.

Matthew David is Associate Professor in the School of Applied Social Sciences of Durham University