Browsing by Subject "global political economy"

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  • Saari, Leevi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    This thesis analyses the regulation of platform economy in the European Commission. The rise of large technology corporations as the underlying infrastructure of much of social activity has received fervent attention in recent years. However, there is still little consensus on the implications of this process. Does the new platform economy affect only market processes, or does it have broader societal consequences? Further, is platform economy something truly new or is it only a continuation of past forms of corporate power? These questions have acute practical importance. On the 15th of December 2020, the European Commission released a proposal for legislation that seeks to address the power of large platform corporations, called the “Digital Markets Act”. What kind of corporate power does this proposal seek to regulate? And what does it suggest about the regulatory paradigm of the European Commission? The contribution of this thesis consists of three parts. The first part is conceptual. In Chapter 2, an original analytical framework for classifying different dimensions of platform power is proposed. This framework helps to illustrate the continuities and novelties in the capabilities of platform corporations and bring together disconnected strands of research from different disciplines. The second part is empirical. In Chapter 3, the development of platform regulation in the European Commission from Spring 2015 to December 2020 is explained and the framework developed in Chapter 2 is used to analyze a recent proposal for regulation of platform economy, the Digital Markets Act. The last part of the contribution is theoretical. In Chapter 4, the Commission’s proposal is mapped on the horizon of potential alternative contrast spaces, which helps to illuminate the underlying political choices and clarify possible contradictions between different authors. The key conclusion of the work is that the European Commission has sought to address platform economy primarily as an aberration of efficient market processes. This has impacted the type of knowledge that is used in policymaking as well as the range of stakeholders consulted for the legislation. As a consequence, the European Commission ends up seeing platform corporations as actors whose capabilities are limited to manipulation of market activities. Systematic treatment of alternative framings is used to illuminate opportunities for broader analyses on the role of platform economy in the global political economy.
  • von Pfaler, Lauri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This thesis investigates the history and consequences of the post-WWII naturalisation of capitalism. It draws centrally on social history of political thought, an approach to intellectual history developed by Ellen Meiksins Wood and Neal Wood, and situates the transformations that turned economic history into neoclassically-oriented historical economics ‒ the most fundamental example of naturalisation in the period under investigation ‒ in their wider socio-political context. The aim is to understand the politics of concept-formation and discipline reconstruction. The thesis presents the commercialisation model, the central naturalising account of the origins of capitalism. It equates capitalism with trade, markets, and towns, and explains its emergence circularly by capitalist phenomena and dynamics. Capitalism becomes universal, a naturalised and expected development that is only impeded by political or cultural fetters. In contrast, the thesis claims that capitalism is a historically specific arrangement of social relations, norms, and practices. The characteristics that are both specific and have been historically central to it are account for by a brief history of their unintended emergence as a result of class conflicts in the medieval English countryside. The thesis then considers the absence of capitalism as an analytical and historical concept in the specialised discipline of the economy. Thereafter, it presents the building blocks of historical economics: an abstract concept of the market as an information processor, reified notions of information and choice, and mathematics. All emanate from post-WWII economics, and the origins of the first three are traced to the twentieth-century struggle against collectivism and Marxism. Next, the thesis situates the construction of historical economics, a universalising and increasingly ahistoricist field, in the socio-historical context from 1950s onwards, emphasising important similarities with neoliberal thought and Friedrich Hayek. Two disciplinary developments are shown to be crucial. The first, cliometrics, is constituted by the direct use of neoclassical economics to study history. The second, new institutional economics (NIE) is a product of the 1970s. NIE claims to be more realistic and historical than neoclassical economics, but shares its naturalising impulses with the former. It is actually a more powerful tool of naturalisation because its framework allows the explanation of the social in terms of the economic. The transformations had profound implications for the understanding of capitalism. The theoretico-methodological framework ensures that historical economics projects aspects that are historically specific to capitalism onto non-capitalist historical contexts. Consequently, the latter is portrayed as qualitatively similar to the former in a way that re-embraces and refines the older commercialisation thesis: markets and private property are naturalised; relative price changes become the motor of history; and capitalism ‒ or a variant of its conceptual ‘place-holders’ ‒ is argued to only have alternatives that end in tragedy. Finally, the policy implications of naturalisation are assessed.