Monday, 14 January 2013

The P2P Techno-Economic Paradigm

Paper: At the Turning Point of the Current Techno-Economic Paradigm: Commons-Based Peer Production, Desktop Manufacturing and the Role of Civil Society in the Perezian Framework. tripleC 11(1): 173-190, 2013. By Vasilis Kostakis.


"Following the theory of techno-economic paradigm shifts (TEPS), this paper calls attention to the phenomenon of Commons-based peer production (CBPP). In the context of the current paradigm, it argues that civil society can play an important role in creating favourable conditions for a more sustainable global knowledge society. Approaching tentatively the ways in which 3D printing and other desktop manufacturing technologies can be used in CBPP, it also explores the ways in which the partnership with the state may provide a supportive innovative institutional basis for taking the maximum advantage of the emerging synergies in the vein of TEPS theory." (



This paper uses the theory of techno-economic paradigm shifts (TEPS) theory – gradually developed by Kondratieff (1979), Schumpeter (1982/1939; 1975/1942), Freeman (1974; 1996), and in particular Carlota Perez (1983; 1985; 1988; 2002; 2009a; 2009b) – as its framework to develop its narrative. This choice arguably helps recognise the dynamic and changing nature of the capitalist system in order to avoid any particular’s period extrapolation as “the end of history” in the fashion of Francis Fukuyama (1992). The Perezian framework, as discussed later in more detail, can be considered as a neo-Schumpeterianist approach influenced by (neo-)Keynesiasm policies, that understands capitalism as a creative destruction system. Therefore, the aim is not to make capitalism crisis-free but to manage crises and soften blows or, in other words, to make a successful “creative destruction management” (Kalvet and Kattel 2006). One should be aware of many other theoretical alternatives, such as the Marxist ones, in understanding and acting within certain social, technological and economic processes. It would be interesting to mention that both Marxist and neoSchumpeterianist theoretical approaches consider capitalism prone to crises which are basic features of its normal functioning. However, the neo-Marxist critique (see Wolff 2010; Harvey 2007; 2010) puts emphasis on the inherent unsustainability of capitalism aiming at a different system – “modern society can do better than capitalism”, Wolff (2010) writes – whereas neoSchumpeterians, such as Carlota Perez (2002) or Christopher Freeman (1974; 1996), see crises as a chance for moving the capitalist economy forward. The take of this paper is integrative trying to highlight the potential of new modes of social production which are immanent in capitalism but, in the long term though, might be transcendent to the dominant system. That is why we chose to develop our narrative within the Perezian framework applying the interpretative theory of TEPS."

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