My academic research focuses primarily on economic democracy, presenting normative and strategic arguments in favor of democratizing various elements of our contemporary economy. This includes the process of "commoning," i.e., the democratic stewardship and control over common resources that we benefit from and collectively produce. Furthermore, the process of commoning requires insight into what is known as "prefigurative politics," or the creation of desired future social relations and economic alternatives in the here-and-now. In essence, prefigurative politics is about "building the new world in the shell of the old". Prefiguration thereby requires us to also think about political resistance, both in terms of our normative commitments enacted in our resistance as well as strategies for building successful, just alternatives. Most recently, this has resulted in my work on economic democracy, its relation to the future of work in the face of developing technologies, and what economic and political preconditions are needed to ameliorate unjust economic inequalities related to the implementation and ownership over those technologies.
Bringing these elements into a particular focus, my dissertation research is aimed at synthesizing contemporary theories of digital capitalism in order to offer a unified political economy of capitalism in the digital age. Silicon Valley is often described as "the new Manchester" in the developmental history of contemporary capitalism, that is, big tech firms have become the the dominant economic players on the scene, ushering in a new economic modality. To that end, exploring and understanding this new economy is important if we are to imagine and build a more just future. Given the rising dominance of big tech firms, my dissertation focuses on the various ways in which capitalism in the digital age creates new forms of exploitation, relies on the "social factory" of networked society for the production of private profit, and requires new, creative solutions for combating the privatization of socially produced goods. This includes imagining participatory, democratic, and commons-based alternatives to our current digital economy. Ultimately, I believe this work is important in order to account for emerging modes of production that are generating economic and political power for these digital firms and contributing to increasing economic inequality. In imagining commons-based solutions to the digital economy, I hope to also open the conversation to democratically organized solutions to our contemporary economy as a whole.
My future work will aim towards imagining post-capitalist, democratic economic alternatives while foregrounding the importance of prefigurative forms of resistance. I intend to focus more closely on the concepts of prefiguration and resistance, dealing with questions about what successful resistance looks like, how to learn from prefigurative movements, and how to build democratic, bottom-up forms of economic and political power. This work will engage directly with decolonial theory and modes of decolonial "re-existence". Further work will explore the tension between political spontaneity and large-scale counter-projects.
In the long term, I intend to explore the role and force of joy in movements for social change.
“Post-Work as Post-Capitalist: The prefigurative potential of cooperative, commons-based
associations and institutions for the development of a post-work future.” In Debating a Post-Work Future, ed., Denise Celentano, Michael Cholbi, Jean-Philippe Deranty, Kory Schaff, (forthcoming).
accepted, in preparation
“Owning the Future of Work.” In The Routledge Handbook of Transformative Global Studies, ed., S. A.
Hamed Hosseini, James Goodman, Sara C. Motta, Barry K. Gills, pp. 387-399. New York: Routledge, 2020.