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Accepted Paper:

Gov-tech: from digital public goods to data assets  
Burcu Baykurt (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Short abstract:

How are bureaucratic inefficiencies and social justice concerns made productive in American techno-capitalism? This paper examines tech startups known as “gov-tech” in the U.S. and shows how their practices, structured by data and racial capitalism, change the form and value of public knowledge.

Long abstract:

How are bureaucratic inefficiencies and social justice concerns made productive in American techno-capitalism? This paper focuses on the case of a particular segment of tech startups known as “gov-tech” in the United States (U.S.), which works with public agencies to redesign digital public infrastructures. Through in-depth interviews with data scientists and founders of gov-tech startups, I first discuss the recent history of how these firms have placed themselves among tech giants, public agencies, and community groups as epistemic brokers. On the one hand, gov-tech firms rally political demands such as racial equity, social justice, and good governance to appeal to public agencies. On the other hand, they repurpose public data into new products for the private industry, stake a claim in public revenues, and bind government agencies to their services in order to become lucrative enterprises. Drawing on critical data studies and critical political economy, this paper aims to show how the practices of gov-tech firms, underlined by the incentives of data and racial capitalism, change the form and value of public knowledge from public goods to data assets.

Traditional Open Panel P032
Digital Public Goods and the future of the state: new constellations of (digital) statehood between entrepreneurship and state-led innovation
  Session 2