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Accepted Paper:

Convergence or Divergence? Control over Knowledge and Technology in the Contemporary Global Economy  

Authors:

Laura Mann (London School of Economics)
Tin Hinane El Kadi (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Paper short abstract:

For all the talk of decolonising knowledge and global convergence, this paper explores contemporary dynamics of the global economy in terms of control over the productive capabilities and financial resources associated with knowledge.

Paper long abstract:

The question of who gets to produce knowledge and technology, commercialise it and disseminate it are essential for thinking about the nature and process of development in the age of the so called ‘knowledge economy’. Nonetheless, the development studies community has so far paid insufficient attention to these questions with regards to economic policies. It is time we connect scholarship on decolonisation with scholarship on knowledge and technology's role in economic development and global inequality. We argue that while funding for African higher education has revived in recent years and there is much talk about strengthening the knowledge economy, current global research and technological arrangements remain trapped within an unequal system whereby the division of labour sets the global North as the home of theoretical and technological production and innovation, while the global South largely remains the ground for data-collection and the consumption and use of knowledge and technological innovations. With funding and investment coming mainly from institutions in the North, northern collaborators have disproportionate influence over the scientific agenda and its execution. As they come under increasing pressure to demonstrate impact through increasingly commercial publishing infrastructures and justify their research in line with the commercial interests of their economies, transnational knowledge and technology partnerships can serve to reinforce extractive systems of knowledge production, commercial surveillance and economic control. For all the talk of decolonising knowledge and global convergence, current dynamics continue to drive global divergence in the control over the productive capabilities and financial resources associated with knowledge.

Panel P01b
Paradigm maintenance or shift? Questioning the reinvention of development for the 2020s II