Friday, 16 October 2015

Does Google give gifts?

In my last post I criticised the view that all giving carries an obligation to reciprocate. I offered charitable giving, volunteering, bringing up our children, and the provision of free-to-access material on the Internet as counter-examples. That doesn't mean that giving is never reciprocal, but rather that there are multiple different kinds of giving, with different characteristics. In this post I want to say a little about different kinds of giving and illustrate the argument by looking at the case of Google search results. Google's offerings are also useful because they help to drive home the point that giving is very much part of the economy, even the commercial or capitalist economy. One consequence is that the market logic that suffuses mainstream economics is inadequate even for making sense of the commercial economy, let alone the forms of provisioning that take place outside it.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Towards a political economy of practices

For the last couple of years, I've been working on alternative ways of understanding the economy. Although that work has focused on the digital economy, many of the principles that emerge from it may also apply much more widely. One part of the argument I've been developing (in a book called Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy, due to appear in 2016), is that conventional ways of understanding the economy - including critical approaches - are deeply flawed, and we need an alternative approach: a political economy of practices.