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Semester 1

Perspectives on Digital Capitalism (PLIT10138)







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Visiting students must have completed 4 Politics courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses, and we cannot consider interdisciplinary courses or courses without sufficient Politics/Government/International Relations focus. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission, and priority will be given to students studying on exchange within the Politics department. **Please note that all Politics courses are very high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.** Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

The digital revolution is profoundly changing the way advanced economies work. This course provides a detailed introduction to a range of contemporary debates on the nature of these transformations and their implications for global capitalism and its governance. This will include understanding different perspectives on the future of work, the implications of automation for inequality and welfare policy, the regulation of technology platforms, competition law in the era of big tech and the political economy of personal data.

Course Description

How should we reform welfare systems to take account of the changing nature of work? Should technology platforms be regulated like other public utilities (are they 'natural monopolies')? How should employment law and trade unions adapt to the realities of technology-driven automation and the gig economy? Who should own the vast value extracted from the personal data we generate online? Is an information society compatible with capitalist institutions based on private property rights? These and other pressing questions have been raised with a new urgency by the rise of digital technologies and the growing power of the firms that control them. This course equips students to critically engage and understand a broad range of inter-disciplinary debates on the implications of digital technology for the governance and future of global capitalism. The course is structured thematically. Each week the students will critically assess competing perspectives on a major issue relating to the digital economy and its governance. Weekly lectures will introduce the broad contours and intellectual history of these debates. The lectures will be supported by weekly seminars that examine the set texts in more depth, drawing on real-world policy debates examples and using structured activities (e.g. debates, presentations, group work) to bring these to life. Indicative topics covered by the course may include: 1.Digital Goods, Scarcity and Property Rights: Is Capitalism Compatible with Information Society?; 2.How 'Free' is Free Stuff? The Political Economy of Personal Data and Algorithms; 3.Monopoly and Competition Policy in the Information Age; 4.Regulating the Digital Economy: Are Tech Platforms Public Utilities?; 5.The Precariat: Labour Rights and Unions in the 'Gig Economy'; 6.Automation and the Future of Work: Re-thinking Welfare for the digital age; 7.Taxing Tech: Fiscal Policy in the digital age; 8.Finance in the Information Age: Cryptocurrencies and Digital Money; 9.National Security in the Information Age: Trade Policy and the Geopolitics of Data; 10.COVID-19 and the Future of Digital Capitalism. To analyse these topics the course draws from a range of inter-disciplinary literature - bringing to bear perspectives from economics (studied in a non-technical way), political economy, public policy, economic sociology and political theory. It will place contemporary debates on this subject in broader historical context through introducing it alongside a curated selection key historical texts and extracts on the implications of automation and technological change - including Marxist, Keynesian and Liberal theory.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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