Internet Governance, Intellectual Property and the Exercise of Power in the 21st Century


Project Summary:

This project explores the nature, limits and possibilities of global governance of what British International Political Economist Susan Strange (1994) calls the “knowledge structure,” that part of the political economy involving control over the production, control, and legitimization of knowledge. It focuses on two key and related aspects of the knowledge structure: internet governance; and intellectual property (IP) and data governance. In other words, our research focuses on the means by which information (in the colloquial sense) is communicated, and the means by which information is turned into economically and socially valuable commodities. While these issues are usually examined in isolation, in practice they are intimately related, with IP governing the content flowing over the network and internet governance setting the terms of access and use of the network itself.

Project Description:

This project investigates two key aspects of the regulation of knowledge creation and dissemination (what we call knowledge governance, or the knowledge structure): the heterogeneity of the state and non-state actors involved in this area (which actors are involved); and the scope of knowledge governance (the nature and effects of this governance). On the first aspect, the popularization and spread of the internet has had a dramatic effect on governance structures. Regarding the second aspect, the control of knowledge – intellectual property rights that allow for the appropriation of value in production, or the capture of personal data for the purposes of selling advertising or attempting to ensure state security – has become a (if not the) vector for political, social and economic power. This project has three main research questions:
1. In terms of governance, which actors are shaping the rules that govern how knowledge is created, disseminated and used in a digital world?
2. What are the social (economic, political, and creative) effects of these rules?
3. What representational and distributional issues are posed by the specific forms of knowledge governance currently in place, and how can these challenges best be addressed?

Project Type:
Funded

Project Role:

Country 1:
Canada

Country 2:
United States

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Month
Year
Start Date:
2016
End Date:
2020

Funder:
Social Sciences and Humanities Reearch Council of Canada (Insight Development Grant)

Year Project Started:
2016

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