From the global geopolitical arena to the smart city, control over knowledge—particularly over data and intellectual property—has become a key battleground for the exercise of economic and political power. For companies and governments alike, control over knowledge—what scholar Susan Strange calls the knowledge structure—has become a goal unto itself.
The rising dominance of the knowledge structure is leading to a massive redistribution of power, including from individuals to companies and states. Strong intellectual property rights have concentrated economic benefits in a smaller number of hands, while the “internet of things” is reshaping basic notions of property, ownership, and control. In the scramble to create and control data and intellectual property, governments and companies alike are engaging in ever-more surveillance.
The New Knowledge is a guide to and analysis of these changes, and of the emerging phenomenon of the knowledge-driven society. It highlights how the pursuit of the control over knowledge has become its own ideology, with its own set of experts drawn from those with the ability to collect and manipulate digital data. Haggart and Tusikov propose a workable path forward—knowledge decommodification—to ensure that our new knowledge is not treated simply as a commodity to be bought and sold, but as a way to meet the needs of the individuals and communities that create this knowledge in the first place.
Blayne Haggart is an associate professor of political science at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ontario. He is the author of Copyfight: The Global Politics of Digital Copyright Reform (2014) and co-editor of two volumes on the political economy of internet governance and knowledge governance, in addition to several journal articles on these subjects.
Natasha Tusikov is an associate professor in the Department of Social Science at York University in Toronto and a research fellow with the Justice and Technoscience Lab (JusTech Lab), School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) at the Australian National University. Her research examines the intersection among law, crime, technology, and regulation. She is the author of Chokepoints: Global Private Regulation on the Internet (2017). She is a co-editor of Information, Technology and Control in a Changing World: Understanding Power Structures in the 21st Century (2019) and co-editor of Power and Authority in Internet Governance: Return of the State? (2021). Her research has also been published in Surveillance & Society and Internet Policy Review.
Part I: Understanding the knowledge-driven society
Chapter 1: Defining knowledge: The eight principles
Chapter 2: New policy challenges, new strategies
Part II: Exploring the knowledge-driven society
Chapter 3: Intellectual property and the economics of control
Chapter 4: Demystifying Data
Chapter 5: Ideology, Dataism and the New Experts
Chapter 6: Power, Data and the Private Sector
Chapter 7: Property and control: Who owns the Internet of Things?
Chapter 8: The Data-Driven State
Chapter 9: Governing Data
Conclusion: Thinking Beyond the Market
About the Authors
Who controls the knowledge-driven digital society? Who owns and operates data sets, algorithms, AI-bots, and other computational technologies that are rapidly shifting the power balance in democratic countries? This book offers a primer for readers interested in the impact of digital technologies on everyday life and geopolitics. Haggart and Tusikov superbly unpack the global knowledge infrastructure, analyzing its technical intricacies and its governing complexities in detail. Warmly recommended to scholars and students across the globe.
In their refreshing and accessible new book, Blayne Haggart and Natasha Tusikov move beyond analyses of the information society that stresses technology and commercial innovation to develop an account of knowledge-driven societies that highlights the character of social power deployed via knowledge relations, importantly focusing on the central role of the state. Their critical political economic perspective pays significant dividends in moving away from a narrative that offers a depoliticised and relatively organic account of the new surveillance, or knowledge-based capitalism, to uncover its critically important social and power relations. The book’s overarching focus on the democratic imperative of the decommodification of knowledge, data, and information is both timely and necessary if we are to both benefit from the expansion of knowledge-based socioeconomic processes and resist the conglomeration and network effects that have centralised political economic power in a small group of private organisations (sometimes referred to as ‘Big Tech’).
A comprehensive and excellent survey of the problems with and power dynamics in the “information-imperium economy,” an economy based on generating, owning, and profiting from systematized information, and the conflicts and cooperation between firms and states around that economy.
The commodification of knowledge as intellectual property and big data presents both dysfunction and danger. Synthesising insights from Susan Strange, Robert Cox, and Karl Polyani, Haggart and Tusikov offer a scathing and brilliant analysis. They powerfully argue that policy change is urgent and necessary if we are to harness these assets for social purposes and human wellbeing.
If knowledge is power, then democratic knowledge-driven societies should be able to make great strides in lessening inequality. We don’t see much evidence of this happening. If you want to know why, read Haggart and Tusikov’s The New Knowledge. With a clarity of prose to savor, Haggart and Tusikov explain how exclusivity and asymmetry of knowledge are leading us into an inequality most of us do not want. They have proposals for liberating the democratizing power of knowledge; they should be read. The stakes could not be higher.
The New Knowledge is about the new kind of society that we, or nearly all of us, now inhabit. It is about how one big part of our lives—the creation, application, and control over knowledge—has become the single most important determinant today of wealth and power in the global political economy. Very little of importance is now untouched by the structure of knowledge and its political and economic consequences, and Blayne Haggart and Natasha Tusikov provide us with the theoretical and practical tools to understand what we need to know about this new society. They ground their study in the field of international political economy, or IPE, and use the work of Susan Strange, Robert Cox, and Karl Polanyi to develop a rigorous but also very accessible account of our so-called knowledge-driven economy. They focus on all its key attributes: the legal features of intellectual property rights; the assemblage and use of ‘big data’; the ideological undercurrents of high-tech advocates; and the deep and profound effects that surveillance and control over knowledge have for how we live. Their most important conclusion is that control over knowledge cannot be left to private authority, and that the politics of knowledge has become perhaps the central issue of our times, connected to issues of war, poverty, and democracy in ways that are historically unprecedented. This is a timely book that speaks to our moment; it needs to be read by anyone interested in our common future.
10/13/22, Choice Reviews: This book was featured in a roundup of forthcoming political science & economics titles.
OPEN ACCESSThis book has been made available for open access through funding provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.VIEW & DOWNLOAD