Education, Science and Knowledge Capitalism

Creativity and the Promise of Openness

by Michael Adrian Peters (Author)
©2013 Monographs VIII, 303 Pages
Series: Global Studies in Education, Volume 25


We live in the age of global science – but not, primarily, in the sense of ‘universal knowledge’ that has characterized the liberal metanarrative of ‘free’ science and the ‘free society’ since its early development in the Enlightenment. Today, an economic logic links science to national economic policy, while globalized multinational science dominates an environment where quality assurance replaces truth as the new regulative ideal. This book examines the nature of educational and science-based capitalism in its cybernetic, knowledge, algorithmic and bioinformational forms before turning to the emergence of the global science system and the promise of openness in the growth of international research collaboration, the development of the global knowledge commons and the rise of the open science economy. Education, Science and Knowledge Capitalism explores the nature of cognitive capitalism, the emerging mode of social production for public education and science and its promise for the democratization of knowledge.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Global Science and Knowledge Capitalism
  • References
  • Notes
  • Part One | New Forms of Educational Capitalism
  • Chapter One: Cybernetic Capitalism, Informationalism and Cognitive Labor | with Rodrigo Britez and Ergin Bulut
  • Cybernetics, Catastrophe, Chaos and Complexity
  • Contemporary Forms of Cybernetic Capitalism
  • Group 1-Informational capitalism: The nature of information/knowledge ‘Informational’, ‘Digital’, ‘Virtual’, ‘Cyber’, ‘Fast’, ‘High-tech’ Castells, Shiller, Morris-Suzuki, Schmiede, Fuchs
  • Group 2-Cultural capitalism: The change of culture ‘new culture’, ‘knowing capitalism’, ‘new spirit’, ‘cultural economy’
  • Group 3-Cognitive capitalism: Immaterial labor ‘cognitive capitalism’, ‘affective capitalism’, ‘immaterial labor’
  • Group 4-Finance capitalism: ‘Financialization’
  • Group 5-Biocapitalism & Biopolitics
  • Informational Capitalism
  • Cognitive Capitalism and Immaterial Labor
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Notes
  • Chapter Two: Education, Creativity and the Economy of Passions: New Forms of Educational Capitalism
  • Introduction: The Creative Economy
  • Knowledge Economy and the Increasing Significance of Aesthetic Capitalism
  • Table 1. History of the Knowledge Economy
  • Personal Anarcho-Aesthetics, Creativity and the Roots of Romanticism
  • Creativity and the Design Principle
  • References
  • Notes
  • Chapter Three: Greening the Knowledge Economy: Ecosophy, Ecology and Economy
  • Introduction
  • Three Forms of the Knowledge Economy: Creativity, Learning and Open Science
  • The Learning Economy
  • A Note on Personal and Tacit Knowledge
  • The Creative Economy
  • The Open Science Economy
  • A Note on Open Education
  • The Logic of Networks
  • Greening the Knowledge Economy
  • The Postmodern Critique of Neoliberalism
  • Conceptions of the Green Economy
  • Environmental Ethics: From Anthropocentrism to Systems
  • Ecopolitics and Green Capitalism as Foci of Environmental Education
  • References
  • Notes
  • Chapter Four: Biocapitalism and the Politics of Life | with Priya Venkatesan
  • Introduction
  • The Rise of the New Biology
  • Mapping Biocapital
  • Biocapital/Biocapitalism
  • Biocapitalism and Neoliberalism
  • The Freiburg School of Neoliberalism and Biocapital
  • Foucault’s Call for Struggle
  • Neoliberalism and the Promissory Ethics of Biocapital
  • References
  • Notes
  • Chapter Five: Bioeconomy and the Third Industrial Revolution in the Age of Synthetic Life | with Priya Venkatesan
  • Introduction: the creation of synthetic life
  • The biotech industry as third industrial revolution
  • References
  • Notes
  • Chapter Six: Algorithmic Capitalism and Educational Futures
  • Introduction: Algorithmic trading and cloud capitalism
  • Cybernetic and cognitive capitalism
  • The New Logic and Culture of Social Media
  • The Googlization of Education
  • References
  • Notes
  • Chapter Seven: Three Forms of Knowledge Economy: Learning, Creativity and Openness
  • Introduction
  • The Learning Economy
  • The Creative Economy
  • The Open Knowledge Economy
  • The Promise of Open Education
  • The Open Science Economy
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Notes
  • Part Two | The Emergence of the Global Science System and the Promise of Openness
  • Chapter Eight: The Rise of Global Science and the Emerging Political Economy of International Research Collaborations
  • Introduction
  • Three ‘Moments’ in the Rise of Global Science
  • First Sketch: Classical Science
  • Second Sketch: Colonial Science
  • Third Sketch: Emergence of ‘Big Science’ and European Collaboration
  • Global Science and Research Collaboration
  • References
  • Notes
  • Chapter Nine: ‘Knowledge Economy,’ Economic Crisis and Cognitive Capitalism: Public Education and the Promise of Open Science
  • Introduction
  • ’Knowledge Economy’ and Emergent Forms of Knowledge Capitalism
  • Financialization and the Economic Crisis
  • Financialization and the Roll-Back of Public Education
  • ‘Crisis’ and Transformation
  • Cognitive Capitalism and Immaterial Labor
  • The Promise of Open Science: Reappropriating the Knowledge Commons
  • References
  • Notes
  • Chapter Ten: ‘Openness’ and the Global Knowledge Commons: An Emerging Mode of Social Production for Education and Science
  • Introduction
  • Open Courseware
  • Open Science, the Public Domain and the Global Knowledge Commons: Declarations and Manifestos
  • Open Access, the Public Sphere and Civil Society
  • Concluding Observations
  • References
  • Notes
  • Chapter Eleven: Open Education and the Open Science Economy
  • Introduction
  • The Emergence of the Open Education Paradigm
  • The Political Economy of Global Science
  • The Economics of Open Science
  • The Argument Concerning Digital Knowledge Goods
  • Towards an Open Science Economy
  • The Mode of Open Production
  • Open Science Economy
  • Concluding Observations
  • References
  • Notes
  • Chapter Twelve: Digital Technologies in the Age of YouTube: Electronic Textualities, the Virtual Revolution and the Democratization of Knowledge | with Peter Fitzsimons
  • Introduction: Electronic Textuality
  • The Virtual Revolution and the Democratization of Knowledge
  • Anti-Democratizing Trends
  • A Reconciliation?
  • Educational and Political Significance of New Social Media
  • References
  • Notes
  • Chapter Thirteen: Manifesto for Education in the Age of Cognitive Capitalism: Freedom, Creativity and Culture
  • Manifestos, Art and Politics
  • Designing Educational Futures and Knowledge Cultures
  • Freedom
  • Freedom, Openness and Creativity
  • Creativity as the New Development Paradigm
  • References
  • Notes
  • Index

Preface and Acknowledgements

These essays were written over the last few years around the themes that I have tried to bring together in one book: New Forms of Educational Capitalism and The Emergence of the Global Science System and the Promise of Openness. I have brought these two themes together because the educational history of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries seems undeniably to signal the marketization, privatization and commercialization of knowledge and knowledge institutions and the best hope we have for reviving the public nature of institutions, of preserving the notion of public space and developing global civil society seems to me the promise inherent in forms of openness, especially as they are manifested in science, education and government. Openness is oriented toward change and experiment, collaboration and sharing, tolerance and the acceptance of criticism. It is one of the best hopes I believe for a non-hegemonic world. In the first part I outline some of the main forms of educational capitalism that point toward the future: biocapitalism, bioinformationalism, eco- or green capitalism, algorithmic capitalism. In the second half I try to develop a conception that demonstrates the promise of openness in realtion to the emerging global science and educational systems. I apologize in advance for overlaps among these articles.

My thanks to my coauthors of various chapters. Rodrigo Britez and Ergin Bulut were PhD students at the University of Illinois with whom I worked closely during the six years I was there. I enjoyed their company and relish the way in which ideas mattered to them. Priya Venkatesan coauthored chapters 4 and 5. We meet at Oxford University where I gave a paper on open science and immediately set to writing and collaborating on the two papers that comprise these chapters. It was exhilarating to work with Priya. Peter Fitzsimons, an old friend and colleague, coauthored Chapter 12. Peter is a person who gets things done and I can always rely on him to deliver. Of course, as they say, all the errors and imperfections are mine for which I bear sole responsibility.

The sources for the chapters are: “Cybernetic Capitalism, Informationalism and Cognitive Labor” (with Rodrigo Britez and Ergin Bulut) Geopolitics, History, and International Relations 1 (2), 2009; “Education, Creativity and the Economy of Passions: New Forms of Educational Capitalism”, Thesis vol. 96 no. 1, 2009: 40-63; “Greening the Knowledge Economy: Ecosophy, Ecology and Economy”, International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education, Chapter 46, pp. 493-501 (AERA, 2012); “Biocapitalism and the Politics of Life” (with Priva Venkatesan) Geopolitics, History, and International Relations, 2(2), 2011, pp. 100-122; “Bioeconomy and the Third Industrial Revolution in the Age of Synthetic Life” (with Priva Venkatesan) Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, 2 (2), 2010: pp. 148-162; “Algorithmic Capitalism and Educational Futures” in M.A. Peters & Ergin Bulut (eds.) Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labor, New York, Peter Lang, 2011, pp. 245-258; “Three Forms of Knowledge Economy: Learning, Creativity and Openness” British Journal of Educational Studies, 58 (1), 2010, pp. 67-88; “The Rise of Global Science and the Emerging Political Economy of International Research Collaborations” European Journal of Education, 41 (2), 2006, pp. 255-244; “‘Knowledge Economy,’ Economic Crisis and Cognitive Capitalism: Public Education and the Promise of Open Science” in David Cole (ed.) Surviving Economic Crises Through Education, New York, Peters Lang, pp. 21-44; “‘Openness’ and the Global Knowledge Commons: An Emerging Mode of Social Production for Education and Science” in Huge Lauder, Michael Young, Harry Daniels, Maria Balarin & john Lowe (eds.) Educating for the knowledge economy? : critical perspectives, London, Routledge, 2012, 66-76; “Open Education and the Open Science Economy” Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Volume 108, Issue 2, pages 203–225, September 2009; “Digital Technologies in the Age of YouTube: Electronic Textualities, the Virtual Revolution and the Democratization of Knowledge” (with Peter Fitzsimons) Geopolitcs, History, and International Relations, 1, 2012, pp. 11-27; “Manifesto for Education in the Age of Cognitive Capitalism: Freedom, Creativity and Culture” Economics, Management, and Financial Markets, 6 (1), 2011, pp. 389-401.

Michael A. Peters
Hamilton, NZ
October, 2012


Global Science and Knowledge Capitalism

Michael A. Peters

The emerging political economy of global science is a significant factor influencing development of national systems of innovation, and economic, social and cultural development, with the rise of multinational actors and a new mix of corporate, private/public and community involvement.1 It is only since the 1960s with the development of research evaluation and increasing sophistication of bibliometrics and webometrics that it has been possible to map the emerging economy of global science, at least on a comparative national and continental basis.2 The question of the political economy of world science and its geographic distribution cannot be easily separated from its measurement and evaluation or the pattern of journal ownership.

Increasingly, emphasis has fallen on the economics and productivity of science in both firms and higher education institutions, as policymakers and politicians seek to foster innovation and to draw strong links between scientific performance and emerging economic structures (Crespi & Geuna, 2004, 2005). In these science policy discussions the accent often falls on measuring scientific productivity, on ‘intellectual property’ and the codification of knowledge, and on research collaboration, partnership and cooperation in regional, national and international contexts. Investment in science, engineering and technology has received strong attention from governments as the basis of the ‘knowledge economy’ and most governments now look to their international science policy strategy to emphasize national competitive advantage and to encourage research collaboration in global science projects.

Indeed, it is the age of global science, but not primarily in the sense of ‘universal knowledge’, which has characterized the liberal meta-narrative of ‘free’ science since its early development, where scientific findings or results are open to peer review, and public scrutiny and, in principle, are reproducible by others following the same procedures. The (older) liberal meta-narrative of science has now been submerged by official narra ← 1 | 2 → tives based on an economic logic linking science to national purpose, economic policy, and national science policy priorities. In the era of ‘post-normal’ science (Funtowicz & Ravetz, 1992), where globalised corporate science dominates the horizon and scientific ‘outputs’ differ from the traditional peer-reviewed published scientific papers, quality assurance replaces ‘truth’ as the new regulative ideal. In contemporary science, policy regimes outputs often take the form of patents, unpublished consultancy, ‘grey literature’ or are covered by legal arrangement and ‘lawyer-client confidentiality’. As a result, there are expressed concerns about the fate of scientific publishing. The rise of digitized publications has led to a counter-revolution in scholarly publishing where actual sales are recast into licences and commercial publishers are taking advantage of the growth of open archives (Guédon, 2001).

Global science as a term to describe the emerging geography of scientific knowledge and collaboration as an aspect of globalization and its new interconnectedness within a globalized world is a distinctly new phenomenon, although, judging by scholarly criteria, it still reflects a strong Western control and bias and is still heavily nationalistic and seen as a vital part of national culture and state economic policy. The emergence of ‘global science’ also reflects new global exigencies, new global problems and an enhanced global network of science communicative practice. Today, ‘big science’ projects require massive state and intergovernmental funding support in an era of intense international competition for knowledge assets, which has forced governments and institutions to collaborate with one another on certain issues. Global science in the form of international science agencies also recognizes the need for cooperation on a number of pressing common global issues that run across borders, such as global warming and other ecological problems, AIDS/HIV, other global diseases and virus outbreaks, natural species extinction, preservation of biomass features, and so on.

The term ‘big science’ actually dates back to the late 1950s when it was used to herald the transition from individual to team research and development. The term was employed to refer to large scale and instrument-expensive, mainly government-funded projects in basic science (high-energy physics), space research and military science, and also the shifts in science policy and funding after WWII. Derek J. de Solla Price (1963) in Little Science, Big Science applied publications analysis to the ← 2 | 3 → system of science communication providing the first systematic approach to the structure of modern science, helping to establish bibliometrics and scientometrics that later became essential in the evaluation of the productivity of scientific research.

On a world scale it is now possible to get some idea of science distributions in terms of academic papers for the first time. An issue of the UIS Bulletin on Science and Technology Statistics (UNESCO, 2005), published in collaboration with the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) (Montréal, Canada), presented a bibliometric analysis of 20 years of world scientific production from 1981 to 2000, as reflected by the publications indexed in the Science Citation Index (SCI). It indicated that

In 2000 the SCI included a total of 584,982 papers, representing a 57.5% increase from 1981, when 371,346 papers were published worldwide. Authors with addresses in developed countries wrote 87.9% of the papers in 2000, a decrease from 93.6% in 1981. Developing countries, on the other hand, saw a steady increase in their share of scientific production: from 7.5% of world papers in 1981 to 17.1% in 2000…. Since 1981 the world map of publications changed significantly. North America lost the lead it had in 1996, and in 2000 produced 36.8% of the world total, a decrease from 41.4% in 1981. The opposite trend can be found in the European Union, which in 2000 published 40.2% of the world total, up from 32.8% in 1981. Japan went up from 6.9% to 10.7% in 2000. Collectively this ‘triad’ has therefore maintained its dominance, accounting for 81% of the world total of scientific publications in 2000, up from 72% in 1981.

The UIS Bulletin concluded that the developed world share of publications has declined while developing regions (Asia and Latin America) have expanded and Africa has stagnated. There is also clear evidence that there has been considerable growth in international collaboration.

In 2004 Britain’s then Chief Scientist David A. King (2004) provided an analysis of the output and outcomes from research investment over the past decade, to measure the quality of research on national scales and to set it in an international context, reveals the unevenness of world distribution of science and ascendancy of a group of 31 countries3 that accounted for ‘more than 98% of the world’s highly cited papers, defined by Thomson ISI as the most cited 1% by field and year of publication: the world’s remaining 162 countries contributed less than 2% in total’ (p. 311). His analysis revealed the overwhelming dominance of the United ← 3 | 4 → States (whose share has declined), United Kingdom and Germany, and the fact that ‘The nations with the most citations are pulling away from the rest of the world’ (p. 311). He provided the following analysis:

The countries occupying the top eight places in the science citation rank order…produced about 84.5% of the top 1% most cited publications between 1993 and 2001. The next nine countries produced 13%, and the final group share 2.5%. There is a stark disparity between the first and second divisions in the scientific impact of nations. Moreover, although my analysis includes only 31 of the world’s 193 countries, these produce 97.5% of the world’s most cited papers. (p. 314)

And King goes on to draw political conclusions about the distribution: ‘South Africa, at 29th place in my rank ordering, is the only African country on the list. The Islamic countries are only represented by Iran at 30th (p. 314). Yet recent reports indicate national anxiety about the decline of US science.

The U.S. National Science Board’s (2008) publication Research and Development: Essential Foundation for U.S. Competiveness in a Global Economy charts the decline since 2005 of Federal and industry support for basic research which accounted for 18% ($62B) of the $340B U.S. research budget in current dollars in 2006. The report comments:

Federal obligations for academic research (both basic and applied) and especially in the current support for National Institutes of Health (NIH) (whose budget had previously doubled between the years 1998 to 2003) declined in real terms between 2004 and 2005 and are expected to decline further in 2006 and 2007. This is the first multiyear decline in Federal obligations for academic research since 1982.

The report also clearly shows the declining competiveness of U.S. science and technology: patents dropped from 55% in 1996 to 53% in 2005; and, ‘Basic research articles published in peer-reviewed journals by authors from U.S. private industry peaked in 1995 and declined by 30% between 1995 and 2005.’ The report goes on to say: ‘The drop in physics publications was particularly dramatic: decreasing from nearly 1,000 publications in 1988 to 300 in 2005.’ The loss in U.S. share and its decline of science and technology ‘reflects the rapid rise in share by the East Asia-4 (comprising China, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan).’ The architecture of world science is changing rapidly. The U.S. needs a comprehensive ← 4 | 5 → strategy based on an understanding of the globalization of science, the promotion of innovation through international collaboration and the global value chain if it is to remain competitive in the coming decades.4

There are clear signs that architecture of global science is shifting especially with the huge investment in research and the consequent growth of scientific publications in Asia. Adams and Wilsdon (2006) report that China’s spending on research has increased by more than 20% per year, reaching 1.3% of GDP in 2005 and making it third in the global league table in research expenditure after U.S. and Japan. Science budgets in India have increased by the same annual percentage, adding some 2.5 million IT, engineering and life sciences graduates, 650,000, postgraduates and 6,000 PhDs every year.

The Royal Society has released its policy document entitled Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global Scientific Collaboration in the 21st Century (2011) in March 2011 that reports on science as a global enterprise indicating that there are

over 7 million researchers around the world, drawing on a combined international R&D spend of over US$1000 billion (a 45% increase since 2002), and reading and publishing in around 25,000 separate scientific journals per year. (p. 5)

The report reviews the changing patterns of science, and scientific collaboration aiming to identify the opportunities for international collaboration and to initiate a debate on how international scientific collaboration can be harnessed to tackle global problems more effectively. The first part of the report maps the changing architecture of global science and indicates that while the traditional ‘scientific superpowers’ still lead the field, China has overtaken Japan and Europe in terms of its publication output and is predicated to overtake the US by 2014. Emerging scientific hubs are supported by explicit government policy to support R&D with rapid developments in India, Brazil and new emergent scientific nations in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and North Africa, as well as a strengthening of the smaller European nations. The report concludes that it is ‘an increasingly multipolar scientific world, in which the distribution of scientific activity is concentrated in a number of widely dispersed hubs’ (p. 5).

The second part of the report focuses on the shifting patterns of international collaboration fueled by ‘connections of people, through for ← 5 | 6 → mal and informal channels, diaspora communities, virtual global networks and professional communities of shared interests’ (p. 6) demonstrating an intensive new dynamics of networking that while still poorly understood brings significant benefits. Knowledge, Networks and Nations concludes with a set of recommendations to strengthen global science, calling for ‘more creative, flexible and better resourced mechanisms to coordinate research across international networks and to ensure that scientists and science can fulfil their potential’ (p. 6). The report concludes, perhaps predictably, that ‘Understanding global science systems, their mechanisms and motivations, is essential if we are to harness the very best science to address global challenges and to secure the future of our species and our planet’ (p. 6).

Historically, we have seen the small science era—Boyle’s ‘invisible college’ 17th century Europe—and the professionalization in 18th century with Curie, Pasteur, and Volta. The disciplines evolved in 19th century and we saw a scientific nationalism develop in the 20th century with the rise of ‘big science’. Today we are witnessing the rise of global science, a series of highly interconnected science hubs associated with strong publishing cities where scientists are highly mobile and science is organized from the bottom up in a series of international collaborations aided by governments and agencies. The new globalized science system indicated that seven major forces are increasingly responsible for structuring the emergent open global science system: Openness, Networks, Collaboration, Emergence, Circulation, Stickiness (place), Distribution (virtual) (Wagner, 2007).

The new open science economy demonstrates some advantages of smallness that utilizes and enhances the shift to international collaborative research with virtual organization of global science teams. Increasingly teams produce more papers and receive more citations (Wuchty et al., 2007). Big science has built-in irreversible constraints and can be bureaucratic and fragmented with communication difficulties and organization rigidities. It can be argued that excellence in science requires nimble, autonomous organizations—qualities more likely to be found in small research settings—and enhanced performance can occur through creation of several dozen small research organizations in interdisciplinary domains or in emerging fields. Dozens of scientists who made significant advances did so in organizations with fewer than 50 full-time researchers. In the past ← 6 | 7 → decade Nobel prizes have been awarded to scientists for work done in relatively small settings: Günter Blobel (physiology or medicine), Ahmed Zewail (chemistry), Paul Greengard (physiology or medicine), Andrew Fire (physiology or medicine), Roderick MacKinnon (chemistry) and Gerhard Ertl (chemistry) (Hollingsworth, 2008). Open source initiatives have facilitated the development of new models of scientific production and innovation where distributed peer-to-peer knowledge systems rival, the scope and quality of similar products produced by proprietary efforts. Open science demonstrates an “exemplar of a compound of ‘private-collective’ model of innovation” that contains elements of both proprietary and public models of knowledge production. Science 2.0 generally refers to new practices of scientists who post raw experimental results, nascent theories, claims of discovery and draft papers on the Web for others to see and comment on. Proponents say these “open access” practices make scientific progress more collaborative and therefore more productive. Rich text, highly interactive, user generated and socially active Internet (Web 2.0) has seen linear models of knowledge production giving way to more diffuse open ended and serendipitous knowledge processes.

Open science economy plays a complementary role with corporate & transnational science and implies strong role for governments. Increasingly, portal-based knowledge environments and global science gateways support collaborative science (see, e.g., Science.gov & Science.¬world). Cyber-mashups of very large data sets let users explore, analyze, and comprehend the science behind the information being streamed (Leigh & Brown, 2008). The World Wide Web has revolutionized how researchers from various disciplines collaborate over long distances especially in the Life Sciences, where interdisciplinary approaches are becoming increasingly powerful as a driver of both integration and discovery (with regard to data access, data quality, identity, and provenance) (Sagotsky et al., 2008). National science review and assessment to focus on formative role in developing distributed knowledge systems based on quality journal suites in disciplinary clusters with an ever finer mesh of in-built indicators which implies that the ‘republic of science’ is subject to new forms of governance.


VIII, 303
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2013 (January)
economic policy the Enlightenment economic logic
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2013. VIII, 303 pp.

Biographical notes

Michael Adrian Peters (Author)

Michael A. Peters is Professor of Education at Waikato University (New Zealand) and Emeritus Professor at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). He is Executive Editor of Educational Philosophy and Theory, Policy Futures in Education, E-Learning & Digital Media and Knowledge Cultures, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society (New Zealand). His most recent books include Obama and the End of the American Dream (2012) and Education, Philosophy and Politics: Selected Works (2012).


Title: Education, Science and Knowledge Capitalism