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Assetization as techno-economic lock-in 
Kean Birch (York University)
Jane Bjørn Vedel (Copenhagen Business School)
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Kean Birch (York University)
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Assetization is used to analyze how future revenue streams are constituted and capitalized through techno-economic configurations, which can lock-in societies to particular techno-economic logics. We need an STS agenda to unpack and contest assetization, in order to imagine and make better worlds.

Long Abstract:

Assetization is a concept sitting at the interface of STS and political economy which is used to analyze how future revenue streams are constituted and how they are capitalized through particular techno-economic configurations. Almost anything can be turned into an asset with the right techno-economic arrangements and logics, like accounting standards and rules, metaphors and narratives, and organizational practices. Concomitantly, assetization entails a new way of understanding and governing things as the asset form through asset management, whether in the public or private sectors. Here, assetization is a highly normative and politicized process in which different social actors pursue their specific policy and political-economic goals. Assetization can be unpacked by examining the techno-economic construction of expectations, revenues, and yields, the socio-technical practices that materialize those expectations, revenues, and yields in the present, and politicization of future goals and outcomes. It is critically important for STS scholars to examine the ways that assets and assetization are entangled with social and structural power relations, reflecting an array of normative, moral, and political perspectives and metrologies. The reason we need this STS research agenda is that assetization can, all too easily, lead to techno-economic lock-in, which is becoming evident in the growing dominance of the asset form across our societies. For example, technoscience developments are increasingly characterized by innovation for rentiership, which can be defined as the extraction or exaction of revenues through ownership and/or control of resources, infrastructures, and even social institutions. Techno-economic lock-in limits our capacities and capabilities to imagine, make, and do things differently; to make better worlds.

Accepted papers:

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4