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Technocapitalism: A Critical Perspective on Technological Innovation and Corporatism

Luis Suarez-Villa
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 230
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    A new version of capitalism, grounded in technology and science, is spawning new forms of corporate power and organization that will have major implications for the twenty-first century. Technological creativity is thereby turned into a commodity in new corporate regimes that are primarily oriented toward research and intellectual appropriation. This phenomenon is likely to have major social, economic, and political consequences, as the new corporatism becomes ever more intrusive and rapacious through its control over technology and innovation.In his provocative book Technocapitalism, Luis Suarez-Villa addresses this phenomenon from the perspective of radical political economy and social criticism. Grounded in the premise that relations of power influence how human creativity and technology are exploited by the new corporatism, the author argues that new forms of democratic participation and resistance are needed, if the social pathologies created by this new version of capitalism are to be checked.Considering the new sectors affected by technocapitalism, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, bioinformatics, and genomics, Suarez-Villa deciphers the common threads of power and organization that drive their corporatization. These new sectors, and the corporate apparatus set up to extract profit and power through them, are imposing standards, creating business models, molding social governance, and influencing social relations at all levels. The new reality they create is likely to affect most every aspect of human existence, including work, health, life, and nature itself.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0044-4
    Subjects: Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    This book adopts a critical perspective to help us understand where we are and why we have become what we are. It is not apologetic of our current condition or the powers that dominate us. It is intended to be emancipative in word and spirit. In so doing, it attempts to break free from the overwhelming reductionism that characterizes most intellectual endeavors today.

    Emancipation is the fundamental objective of a just society. Human emancipation involves not only freedom from oppressive and exploitive conditions but also participation in the governance of society and its creative activities at all levels. More than...

  4. Experimentalism
    (pp. 8-30)

    Experimentalism is the driving force of technocapitalism. It underpins the ethos of this new era with its compulsions, exploitive schemes, and diverse pathologies. It contributes features that set the emerging paradigm apart from prior stages of capitalism. Experimentalism therefore transcends the context of the laboratory set by the experimental sciences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to encompass all of society. This chapter considers the characteristics that make experimentalism both a social phenomenon and a source of pathology in the nascent era of technocapitalism.

    Experimentalism is defined here as technological and scientific inquiry whose overarching objective is commercial. It is...

  5. Creativity as a Commodity
    (pp. 31-55)

    A major feature that sets technocapitalism apart from previous eras is the vital need to commodify creativity. The commodification of this mostintangibleand elusive human quality has characteristics separating it from the commodification of other resources in previous stages of capitalism. The distinctive character of this process and the features that underpin its role in the rise of technocapitalism are addressed in this chapter.

    Commodification is defined here as the set of processes or activities through which the results of creativity are commercialized. Commercialization typically involves products or services obtained from the exercise of creativity. Reproduction is defined as...

  6. Networks as Mediators
    (pp. 56-85)

    Networks are the means through which some of the vital processes of technocapitalism are articulated. Phenomena related to creativity, its reproduction, and its value rely on social mediation provided through networks. The characteristics of networks, their mediation, and their contribution to the emergence of technocapitalism are considered in this chapter.

    Features such as extent, hierarchy, modes of control, power, and inequity influence the roles networks play in this new phase of capitalism. These features articulate the quality and character of social mediation. The term social mediation here refers to the apparatus of relations that help reproduce creativity. These relations occur...

  7. Decomposing the Corporation
    (pp. 86-122)

    The decomposition of the corporation is a major phenomenon of technocapitalism. Network-based decomposition shifts power away from corporate organizations toward society. Virtually all aspects of the reproduction of creativity and other intangibles depend on this power shift toward networks and the social context. The distinctive nature of this phenomenon, the role of networks, and their effect on corporate power and its pathologies are addressed in this chapter.

    Decompositionis the dismantling and externalizing of functions that were traditionally under the control of corporate governance. Networks and their social relations are the vehicles of decomposition, an emerging phenomenon whose full dimensions...

  8. Experimentalist Organizations
    (pp. 123-151)

    The experimentalist organization is the corporate arm of technocapitalism. Its aim, to control the commodification of creativity, is of paramount importance for this new version of capitalism. This chapter considers the distinctive features of this new form of corporatism, its external and internal relations of power, and the pathologies it generates.

    The experimentalist organization is defined through its intense orientation toward research. It is a corporate form of organization that embodies the ethos ofexperimentalism, as discussed in an earlier chapter. The commodification of creativity is the most important function of the experimentalist organization. It is the means through which...

  9. Challenges
    (pp. 152-168)

    The most serious challenges posed by technocapitalism revolve around the need for accountability and public democracy. Given the power and reach of this phenomenon, greater accountability to society and the need for new forms of public democracy are important priorities. The new relations of power that accompany this new version of capitalism are likely to affect most every aspect of work and governance, our social relations, and life itself. Only through checks provided by greater social accountability and democracy can we hope to make technocapitalism responsive to human needs.

    The sustenance of human emancipation, solidarity, and development rides on the...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 169-210)
  11. Index
    (pp. 211-220)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 221-221)