Economies of Contribution, RGS-IBG 2013 session

Along with Matt Wilson and James Ash, I am co-convening (and chairing) a session at the RGS-IBG annual conference concerning the ways in which we might theoretically and empirically address what Bernard Stiegler has called the economy of contribution. Following James’ post, I thought I’d post the blurb and the running order here.

Economies of Contribution, Paper Session

‘Rather, a pathway to genuine growth must be refound, a growth running counter to the mis-growth [mécroissance] that consumerism has become, and a growth which would consist in a renaissance of desire. Such a rebirth would be achieved by implementing an economy of contribution, an economy for which “to economize“ means “to take care,“ and an economy within which care cultivates associated milieus.’ Stiegler 2010, For A New Critique of Political Economy, p. 108, original emphasis

How might growth be re-imagined as a ‘taking care’? What are the particular spaces and spacings in which such economizations are already occurring? How are re-imaginings of value, consumption, contribution and production re-configured through networked and spaced activities, communities, and infrastructures? We invite papers and other provocations exploring emerging social, political, cultural, economic and biophysical geographies with a particular focus on shifting conceptualizations of technological-mediated consumptions and productions.

Taking an impetus from the work of Bernard Stiegler, this session concerns the rapid changes brought about by networked technologies within economic arenas and how such changes demand broadened and/or revised understandings of consumption, production and value. Of course, a number of economic commentators and theorists have raised the advent of the internet, and particularly the world wide web, as a socio-technical phenomenon that demands that we rethink our understandings of economics. The conjunction of consumption and production, the distribution of the means of production, and the growth of positive externalities have all been raised as benefits of a new technically enabled economy (Benckler, Lessig, Shirky). Equally, the effectively infinite reproducibility of digital media has troubled the economic models of established creative industries, from newspapers to record producers and film studios (Leadbeater, Lessig, Zittrain). New modes of technical interaction between consumers, service providers and industry also ask questions about the bases of value and cost of products and services (Beller, Marazzi, Stiegler).

Novel forms of economic model and activity are active in a range of settings, but it is also important to note these economic paradigms, practices and social theoretical accounts do not always or easily gel. By inviting a range of positions to be collected together in this session we aim to interrogate their geographies and promote not so much a revision of economic geography, but rather a sense of opportunity for an expansive and inclusive engagement with the political economy.


Enforced Flexibility: The Opportunities and Challenges of Changing Models of Distribution and Contribution Daniel Cockayne (University of Kentucky)

New economies of residential energy demand reduction Heather Lovell (University of Edinburgh), Martin Pullinger (Lancaster University / ESRC Sustainable Practices Research Group / ARCC-Water Project), Nigel Goddard (University of Edinburgh)

Contributing urban space: a genealogy of the High Line Ate Poorthuis (University of Kentucky)

Online Artmaking and Community Building Ruth Catlow (Furtherfield)


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