Mediathek Event
Jan 18, 2022
A Science Worth Trusting? Platform Capitalism Reorganizes the Science of the Future

Historians are not known for their skills at augury; but the parlous state of science in the 2020s demands that we attempt to situate numerous controversies over Big Data, the death of journals, flaws of research integrity, distrust of scientists, open science and the transformation of universities into a larger more encompassing framework. I will argue that although we have been living through an era of the commercialization of science since the 1980s (see my ScienceMart), something has dramatically intensified over the last decade, resulting in distinctly novel phenomena. Whereas commercialization used to mean the subjection of research outputs to market considerations, a new development seeks to monetize nearly all aspects of the research process. This has become manifest under the rubric of "open science" as the purported solution to what is perceived to ail modern science, ironically often by individuals who regard themselves as more or less opposed to commercialization of science and the dominance of for-profit journals publishers. In a further ironic twist, lately the major commercial interests behind the top 5 journals publishers are pursuing control over "open science" by imposing the structures of "platform capitalism" upon the research process, at least in the Anglophone sphere. Historians of science have come late to awareness of this development, although one can find elements of the thesis in such byways as the political theory of neoliberalism, librarians' blogs (such as Scholarly Kitchen), work in science studies on citizen science and the politics of expertise, and the political economy of platform capitalism.



Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany
Zoom/Online Meeting Platform


This event is part of the MPIWG's Institute's Colloquium 2021–22 series "Trusting Science," which seeks to explore this topic from interdisciplinary, transnational, and longue durée perspectives. Learn more about the series here.


A Science Worth Trusting? Platform Capitalism Reorganizes the Science of the Future