27 June 2017

Platforms and Polanyi

'Law for the Platform Economy' by Julie Cohen in UC Davis Law Review (Forthcoming) comments
This article explores patterns of legal-institutional change in the emerging, platform-driven economy. Its starting premise is that the platform is not simply a new business model, a new social technology, or a new infrastructural formation (although it is also all of those things). Rather, it is the core organizational form of the emerging informational economy. Platforms do not enter or expand markets; they replace (and rematerialize) them. The article argues that legal institutions, including both entitlements and regulatory institutions, have systematically facilitated the platform economy’s emergence. It first describes the evolution of the platform as a mode of economic (re)organization and introduces the ways that platforms restructure both economic exchange and patterns of information flow more generally. It then explores some of the ways that actions and interventions by and on behalf of platform businesses are reshaping the landscape of legal entitlements and obligations. Finally, it describes challenges that platform-based intermediation of the information environment has posed for existing regulatory institutions and traces some of the emerging institutional responses.
Cohen's 'Property and the Construction of the Information Economy: A Neo-Polanyian Ontology' in Leah Lievrouw and Brian Loader (eds) Handbook of Digital Media and Communication (Routledge, forthcoming) comments
This chapter considers the changing roles and forms of information property within the political economy of informational capitalism. I begin with an overview of the principal methods used in law and in media and communications studies, respectively, to study information property, considering both what each disciplinary cluster traditionally has emphasized and newer, hybrid directions. Next, I develop a three-part framework for analyzing information property as a set of emergent institutional formations that both work to produce and are themselves produced by other evolving political-economic arrangements. The framework considers patterns of change in existing legal institutions for intellectual property, the ongoing dematerialization and datafication of both traditional and new inputs to economic production, and the emerging logics of economic organization within which information resources (and property rights) are mobilized. Finally, I consider the implications of that framing for two very different contemporary information property projects, one relating to data flows within platform-based business models and the other to information commons. Cohen, Julie E,