Web reactions against Capitalism. The case of web currencies

Anna Cossetta

EMES Conferences Selected Papers Series, ECSP-P12-04.

The development of the World Wide Web coincided, from an historical point of view, with 90s financial crises, which were overcome not so much by the financial markets, but by diminishing trust and support of the market trade as much as before. This trust has collapsed again with the 2007 crisis.

These last twenty years have been an endless succession of hope and collapse: hope has often come from the Internet, at first with the new economy hangover and, today, with Social Media. Web characteristics’ and hacker’s ethics support the growth of so called gift economy (Barbrook 1998; Ghosh 2005). So, is the Web a place where fictitious commodities considered by Karl Polanyi, labor, land and money can react against capitalism? And in particular, the rise of alternative and complementary currencies can find new diffusive and innovative experience through informatics platforms? This paper explores these questions from a Polanyian perspective.

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