Economics and politics of the knowledge economy

The first three sessions of the course introduce a framework for analysing how economic systems are rooted in available social and technical knowledge, and shaped by the distribution of power. The approach draws on the new economics of institutions and emphasizes property rights, transaction costs, political economy, and ideas. The remaining nine sessions focus on the impact on economic systems of the new information and communication technologies (ICTs), which have sharply lowered the cost of communication, measurement, and monitoring. We examine how new developments such as digitization of data, computerization, the internet, and biotechnology have undermined the status quo and changed the economic, political, and social landscapes. We ask: Is a new market structure emerging that differs from what we have known? Does internet marketing facilitate or limit price discrimination? Does massive availability of personal data threaten privacy? Does digitization and the internet require new business models for the creation and distribution of books, music, and news, and are new models emerging? Are current intellectual property institutions still relevant? How does the new technology affect social issues such as criminal behaviour and crime prevention, democratic processes, political oppression, social movements and resistance under dictators, and the future of big cities? What will the organization of production and consumption be like in the near future? What will be the future of the internet?