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Political Economy of Peer Production
AuthorBirkinbine, Benjamin J.
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Understanding the political economy of peer production requires consideration of at least two interrelated factors: the economic factors that enabled the rise of peer production and the unique cultural factors within peer production communities that have the potential to subvert the prevailing tendencies of global capitalism. This chapter considers the political economy of peer production by contextualizing the rise of peer production within capitalism and evaluating to what extent peer production contradicts, or reinforces, these global economic trends. It begins by tracing the structural changes of capitalism in the 20th century that provide the economic foundation upon which peer production arose. The structural changes of capitalism throughout the 20th century laid the foundation for the emergence of the Internet as a vehicle for intensifying capital accumulation. In the wake of its privatization, Internet‐ and web‐based businesses went through a relatively rapid boom‐and‐bust cycle.