Cognitive Capitalism, Welfare and Labour: The Commonfare Hypothesis (Hardback) book cover

Cognitive Capitalism, Welfare and Labour

The Commonfare Hypothesis

By Andrea Fumagalli, Stefano Lucarelli, Carlo Vercellone, Alfonso Giuliani


200 pages

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Hardback: 9781138654303
pub: 2019-01-01
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This book considers the transformations of both accumulation processes and labour in the transition from a Fordist to a cognitive capitalism paradigm, with specific regard to Western economies. It outlines the advent, after industrial capitalism, of a new phase of the capitalist system in which the value of cognitive labour becomes dominant. In this framework, the central stakes of capital valorization and of forms of property are directly based on the control and privatization of the production of collective knowledge. The transformation of knowledge itself, into a commodity or a fictitious capital, is analyzed. The contradiction between cognitive capitalism and a knowledge based economy will be here declined as a new historical form of the traditional contradiction between the development of productive forces and the exploitation of social relations.

Building on this foundation, the authors outline their concept of ‘commonfare’. The idea of commonfare implies, as a prerequisite, the social re-appropriation of the gains arising from the exploitation of those social relations which are the basis of accumulation today. This re-appropriation does not necessarily leads to the transition from private to public ownership but it is necessary to distinguish between common goods and the commonwealth. As far as basic services such as health care or education or mobility are concerned (common goods), which are now increasingly privatized, the goal is to provide a public management of their supply as use-value against any attempt at commodification. But if we refer to the commonwealth, the framework is different, since the fruit of social cooperation and general intellect are neither private nor public goods. The only way to manage the commonwealth is the self-organization, by imagining a different régime of valorization, prioritising the needs of human beings.

Table of Contents

1. The thesis of cognitive capitalism 2. The accumulation process in cognitive capitalism: new forms of exploitation 3. The accumulation process in cognitive capitalism: new forms of "dis-possession" 4. The crisis of the law of value and the becoming rent of profit 5. The precarity trap and the becoming rent of wages 6. Why Cognitive Capitalism is unstable 7. The valorization by common goods and by commonwealth 8. From Keynesian wel(work)fare to Commonfare 9. The pillars of Commonfare

About the Authors

Andrea Fumagalli is Professor in Political Economy at University of Pavia, Italy.

Stefano Lucarelli is Assistant Professor in Political Economy at University of Bergamo, Italy.

Carlo Vercellone is Maître à Conference of Political Economy at the University of Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne, CES CNRS, France.

About the Series

Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy

In recent years, there has been widespread criticism of mainstream economics. This has taken many forms, from methodological critiques of its excessive formalism, to concern about its failure to connect with many of the most pressing social issues. This series provides a forum for research which is developing alternative forms of economic analysis. Reclaiming the traditional 'political economy' title, it refrains from emphasising any single school of thought, but instead attempts to foster greater diversity within economics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Knowledge Capital