Transition to Science 2.0: “Remoralizing” the Economy of Science

David Tyfield


The present is a moment of crisis and transition, both generally and specifically in “knowledge” and its institutions. Acknowledging this elicits the key questions: where are we? Where are we headed? What, if anything, can be done about this? And what can the “economics of science” contribute to this? This paper assumes a “cultural political economy of research & innovation” (CPERI) perspective to explore the current upheaval and transition in the system of academic knowledge production, at the confluence of accelerating commercialisation and the seemingly opposing movement of “open science.” This perspective affords a characterisation of the core of the current crises as a crisis of moral economy; an issue to which a political economy of epistemic authority is in turn crucial. A “remoralizing” of knowledge production is thus a matter of key systemic importance, though it is important to understand such developments in power-strategic, and not explicitly moral, terms. Much of the current moves towards “open science” and “massively open online courses” (MOOCs) can also then be seen as self-defeating developments that simply exacerbate the crisis of a viable “economy of science” and in no sense its solution. Their lasting significance, however, is more likely to lie precisely in their effects on the construction of a new moral economy of knowledge production.

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