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Capital, knowledge and ownership : the information society and intellectual property.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date1998
JournalInformation, Communication and Society
Number of pages24
Original languageEnglish


The argument that the information society represents 'something new' is predicated on the claim that its use of a new resource — knowledge/information — fundamentally differentiates it from previous systems of capitalism. However the actual organization of the posited information society constructs a widespread recognition of the legitimacy of intellectual property. The article examines the two central claims for transformation made in the information society discourse: that information is a new resource, and that increasingly it is theoretical or symbolic knowledge that is valued. However, neither shift has produced a change in the relations of production, and much that is claimed as new in information society is actually the fragmentation of the social division of labour. Though there have been changes in the forms of production, the relations of production remain organized on the basis of property, though often now intellectual property. This reveals the discourse of information society as a justification for the intensification of capitalism, not an account of its transformation.