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Cognitive Capitalism, Welfare and Labour: The Commonfare Hypothesis


  • Andrea Fumagalli

    (Dipartimento di Economia, Università di Pavia, Italie - University of Pavia)

  • Alfonso Giuliani

    () (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Stefano Lucarelli

    (UniBG - Università degli studi di Bergamo)

  • Carlo Vercellone

    () (CEMTI - Centre d'études sur les médias, les technologies et l'internationalisation - UP8 - Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


This book considers the transformations of both accumulation processes and labour in the transition from a Fordist to a cognitive capitalism paradigm, with specific regard to Western economies. It outlines the advent, after industrial capitalism, of a new phase of the capitalist system in which the value of cognitive labour becomes dominant. In this framework, the central stakes of capital valorization and of forms of property are directly based on the control and privatization of the production of collective knowledge. The transformation of knowledge itself, into a commodity or a fictitious capital, is analyzed. The contradiction between cognitive capitalism and a knowledge based economy will be here declined as a new historical form of the traditional contradiction between the development of productive forces and the exploitation of social relations. Building on this foundation, the authors outline their concept of `commonfare'. The idea of commonfare implies, as a prerequisite, the social re-appropriation of the gains arising from the exploitation of those social relations which are the basis of accumulation today. This re-appropriation does not necessarily leads to the transition from private to public ownership but it is necessary to distinguish between common goods and the commonwealth. As far as basic services such as health care or education or mobility are concerned (common goods), which are now increasingly privatized, the goal is to provide a public management of their supply as use-value against any attempt at commodification. But if we refer to the commonwealth, the framework is different, since the fruit of social cooperation and general intellect are neither private nor public goods. The only way to manage the commonwealth is the self-organization, by imagining a different regime of valorization, prioritising the needs of human beings.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Fumagalli & Alfonso Giuliani & Stefano Lucarelli & Carlo Vercellone, 2019. "Cognitive Capitalism, Welfare and Labour: The Commonfare Hypothesis," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01824122, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:hal-01824122
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