Capitalism, Power and Innovation : Intellectual Monopoly Capitalism Uncovered book cover
1st Edition

Capitalism, Power and Innovation
Intellectual Monopoly Capitalism Uncovered

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ISBN 9780367357634
March 28, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
304 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In contemporary global capitalism, the most powerful corporations are innovation or intellectual monopolies. The book’s unique perspective focuses on how private ownership and control of knowledge and data have become a major source of rent and power. The author explains how at the one pole, these corporations concentrate income, property and power in the US, China, and in a handful of intellectual monopolies, particularly from digital and pharmaceutical industries, while at the other pole developing countries are left further behind.

The book includes detailed empirical mappings of how intellectual monopolies develop and transform knowledge from universities and open-source collaborations into intangible assets. The result is a strategy that combines undermining the commons through privatization with harvesting from the same commons. The book ends with provoking reflections to tilt the scale against intellectual monopoly capitalism and arguing that desired changes require democratic mobilization of workers and citizens at large.

This book represents one of the first attempts to capture the contours of an emerging new era where old perspectives lead us astray, and the old policy toolbox is hopelessly inadequate. This is true for the idea that the best, or only, way to promote innovation is to transform knowledge into private property. It is also true for anti-trust policies focusing exclusively on consumer prices. The formation of global infrastructures that lead to ‘natural monopolies’ call for public rather than private ownership.

Scholars and professionals from the social sciences and humanities (in particular economics, sociology, political science, geography, educational science and science and technology studies) will enjoy a clear and all-embracing depiction of innovation dynamics in contemporary capitalism, with a particular focus on asymmetries between actors, regions and topics. In fact, its topical issue broadens the book’s scope to those curious about how innovation networks shape our world.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables



1 Introduction

Section 1. Intellectual Monopoly Capitalism

2 The emergence of Intellectual Monopoly Capitalism

3 Knowledge privatization and power relations in the knowledge commons

4 The interplays of US, China and their intellectual monopolies

5 Research universities: between subordination and intellectual monopoly.

Section 2. Global intellectual monopolies. Illustrative cases.

6 Technological cooperation and competition among big pharmaceuticals

7 Apple: from legal towards data-driven intellectual rentiership.

8 Amazon’s data-driven intellectual monopoly.

9 State Grid Corp: an intellectual monopoly relying on China's innovation system.

10 Rentiership, predation, and their implications for workers.

Section 3. Effects of intellectual monopoly capitalism on the peripheries

11 Why we need new development policies under intellectual monopoly capitalism

12 Singapore’s innovation hub. A source of rents for intellectual monopolies.

13 Pharmaceutical knowledge extractivism from a semi-peripheral university.

14 Tilting the scale against intellectual monopoly capitalism


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Cecilia Rikap is a tenure researcher at the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and associate researcher at the Centre de Population et Développement (CEPED), IRD/Université de Paris and COSTECH, Université de Technologie de Compiègne. She is also an undergraduate lecturer at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and postgraduate lecturer at the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes in Argentina.


 "Capitalism, Power and Innovation gives us the right tools to understand how a digitalisation driven by an interplay between the US GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) and the likes from China can deeply constrain countries development and the fate of workers around the world. This roadmap is thus very welcome." — Prof. Pascal Petit, Emeritus Research Director at the CNRS.

"Capitalism, Power and Innovation is a must read for scholars, policy makers, and activists who would like to understand the developing forms of intellectual monopoly capitalism. The volume brings together theoretical analyses, empirical research, and case studies and presents the reader with new insights on the rise of intellectual monopolies in sectors such as technology and pharmaceuticals; the interplays of the US and China through their intellectual monopolies; and the impact of intellectual monopoly capitalism on developing economies. As such, it not only provides an elaboration of the emergence and the rise of the intellectual monopolies but also untangles the effects of intellectual monopoly capitalism at various levels. The contributions in this volume are also an excellent starting point for researchers delving into the question of how science and technology is being transformed by powerful interests in modern capitalism." Prof. Özgür Orhangazi, Kadir Has University.

"This book is important reading for scholars and policy makers. It captures the contours of an emerging new era where global monopoly power increasingly is based on knowledge assets and access to data. It includes detailed empirical mappings of how digital intellectual monopolies, primarily located in the US and China, develop and transform knowledge from universities and open source collaborations into intangible assets. It shows how intellectual monopoly capitalism reinforces global inequality. The book raises important issues in relation to current views on intellectual property, anti-trust policy and development strategies." — Bengt-Åke Lundvall, Emeritus Professor, Aalborg University and Lund University.