Towards a political ecology of the digital economy: Socio-environmental implications of two competing value models

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article explores the socio-environmental implications of two different value models currently competing for dominance in the digital economy: the neo-feudal cognitive capitalism (NFCC) and the hypothetical case of mature peer production (HMPP). Using a systematisation that considers environmental effects of information and communication technologies as direct, indirect and structural, this article discerns the future socio-environmental scenarios indicative of each value model. We argue that the two value models share the same type of direct environmental effects associated with a similar technological infrastructure; however, their indirect effects differ in prospects of consumer behaviour, environmental awareness and product design. Likewise the difference in structural effects is significant as the NFCC is based on profit maximisation and an accumulation of capital, whereas the HMPP is agnostic to growth and oriented towards the commons. Hence, the latter is considered as the socio-environmentally auspicious choice, but comes not without transitional challenges of its own


External organisations
  • Tallinn University of Technology
  • P2P Lab
  • P2P Foundation
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Human Aspects of ICT


  • Techno-economic paradigm shifts, Environmental sustainability, Digital economy, Peer-to-peer, ICT, Political ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-100
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar
Publication categoryResearch