An increasing number of STS scholars are engaging with assets as objects of inquiry. An asset is a thing that can be owned, traded and capitalized as a revenue stream, often involving the valuing of discounted future earnings in the present. One key question emerges: how do things become assets?
An increasing number of STS scholars are engaging with assets as objects of inquiry. Some scholars seek to differentiate asset from commodity markets in the bio-economy, while others seek to understand how assets are constituted by and come to constitute, in a performative fashion, valuation processes. By asset, we mean a thing - e.g. patent, business model, technology, infrastructure, molecule, etc. - that can be owned, traded and capitalized as a revenue stream, often involving the valuing of discounted future earnings in the present. One key question emerges: how do things become assets? What this question requires us to do is tease apart the (techno-economic) configuration of assets and capitalization; that is, the tangible materiality and intangible knowledge that enable things to be turned into assets (or not). It leaves us with many questions about where to take forward any critique of capitalism and technoscience more generally. For example, it might be the threat of assetization stifling innovation, promoting the pursuit of rentiership (i.e. extraction of value through property ownership) over entrepreneurship (i.e. creation of value through development of new products and services). Furthermore, it might be the implications of capitalization in reshaping how we think about things (including ourselves), turning them into a purely financial calculation of costs and benefits over other concerns. There are, no doubt, other issues to consider and we invite contributors to do just that. More details: http://www.keanbirch.net/2015/10/track-proposal-2016-4seasst-conference.html