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Journal of Peer Production

Work and Peer Production
Editors: Phoebe Moore (Middlesex University London), Mathieu O’Neil (University of Canberra), Stefano Zacchiroli (University Paris Diderot)

The rise in the usage and delivery capacity of the Internet in the 1990s has led to the development of massively distributed online projects where self-governing volunteers collaboratively produce public goods. Notable examples include Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) projects such as Debian and GNOME, as well as the Wikipedia encyclopedia. These distributed practices have been characterised as peer production, crowdsourcing, mass customization, social production, co-configurative work, playbour, user-generated content, wikinomics, open innovation, participatory culture, produsage, and the wisdom of the crowd, amongst other terms. In peer production, labour is communal and outputs are orientated towards the further e xpansion of the commons, an ecology of production that aims to defy and resist the hierarchies and rules of ownership that drive productive models within capitalism (Moore, 2011); while the commons, recursively, are the chief resource in this mode of production (Söderberg & O’Neil, 2014).

Peer projects are ‘ethical’ as participation is primarily motivated by self-fulfillment and validated by a community of peers, rather than by earning wages. Their governance is ‘modular’, understood in a design sense (decomposable blocks sharing a common interface), but also in political-economy terms: participants oppose restricted ownership and control by individually socializing their works into commons. Conflicting interpretations of their societal impact have been articulated (O’Neil, 2015). Skeptics view the abjuration of exclusive property rights over the goods they produce as irrelevant, and ethical-modular projects as increasing w orker exploitation: participants’ passionate labour occurs at the expense of less fortunate others, who do not have the disposable income, cultural capital, or family support to engage in unpaid labour (Moore & Taylor, 2009; Huws, 2013). In contrast, reformists, often hailing from a management perspective, suggest that the co-optation of communal labour by firms will improve business practices and society (Arvidsson, 2008; Demil et al., 2015). Finally activists celebrate the abjuration of exclusive property rights, and present ethical-modular projects as key actors in a historical process leading to the supersession of capitalism and hierarchy (Kostakis & Bauwens, 2014).

This last perspective raises a central challenge, which is the avoidance of purely utopian thinking. In other words, how can commons-based peer production reach deeply into daily life? How can ‘already existing non-capitalist economic processes’ be strengthened, ‘new no n-capitalist enterprises’ be built, and ‘communal subjects’ be established (Gibson-Graham, 2003: 157)? An increasingly large free public goods and services sector could well cohabit in a plural economy with employment in cooperatives, paid independent work, and the wage-earning of the commercial sector. However analysis of peer production typically eschews mundane considerations such as living wages, benefits, job security, working conditions, work-induced medical conditions, and debates on labour organization. How can peer production operate as a sustainable practice enabling people to live, if labour and work issues are not formally addressed?

To advance this agenda, the tenth issue of the Journal of Peer Production, titled Peer Production and Work, calls for papers in two linked areas:

*Peer production in a paid work society*
Nowadays firms attempt to monetize crowdsourced labour. The paradigmatic example is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk labourers (popularly known as ‘Turkers’, ‘cloud workers’ or ‘click workers’) who accomplish micro-tasks such as tagging and labeling images, transcribing audio or video recordings, and categorizing products. This extreme modularization of work results in their status being that of independent contractors rather than employees with rights, necessitating novel means of protection and redress (Irani & Silberman, 2013). The so-called ‘sharing economy’ also uses peer production methods, such as the self-selection of modular and granular tasks, to extract ever-more value from the labour of volunteer ‘prosumers’ (Frayssé & O’Neil, 2015). Capitalist firms are also increasingly engaging with ethical-modular organizations, in some cases paying wages to participants. Such labour is thus both ‘alienated’, or sold, and ‘communal’, as workers freely cooperate to produce commons. Do traditional categories such as exploitation and alienation still apply?
Topics may include, but are not limited to:

* Peer production and the global political economy
* Peer production and the rise of precarious work
* Peer workers and possibilities for worker organisation
* Does the autonomy of peer workers cause conflict in firms, and how is it resolved?
* What strategies do firms adopt to co-opt peer production (e.g., ‘hackhathons’)?
* Do tensions around property rights emerge?
* Subjectivity in peer production
* Peer production and intellectual property, coded work

*Paid work in peer production projects*
How does paid labour affect ethical P2P projects? Mansell and Berdou (2010) argue that firms supporting the work of programmers who contribute to volunteer projects, to the commons, will not affect the ‘cooperative spirit’ of projects; nor can this support prevent the results of labour from being socialized into commons. Is this always the case?
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
* How do peer projects deal with the presence of paid or waged labour?
* Is this topic discussed within peer production projects? In what way?
* What benefits do paid or waged workers enjoy in peer projects?
* How does paid labour affect peer production projects?

300-500 word abstract due: 30 July 2015
Notification to authors: 30 August 2015
Submission of full paper: 31 December 2015
Reviews to authors: 15 February 2016
Revised papers: 30 April 2016
Signals due: 30 May 2016
Issue release: June/⁠July 2016

*Submission guidelines*
Submission abstracts of 300-500 words are due by July 30, 2015 and should be sent to

All peer reviewed papers will be reviewed according to Journal of Peer Production guidelines. See
Full papers and materials are due by December 31, 2015 for r eview.
Peer reviewed papers should be around 8,000 words; personal testimonies or ‘tales of toil’ in the Processed World tradition should be up to 4,000 words.

Arvidsson, A. (2008). The ethical economy of consumer coproduction. Journal of Macromarketing, 8, 326-338.

Demil, B., Lecoq. X. & Warnier, E. (2015). The capabilities of bazaar governance: Investigating the advantage of business models based on open communities. Journal of Organizational Change Management, in press.

Frayssé, O. & O’Neil, M. (2015) Digital labour and prosumer capitalism: The US matrix. Basingstoke: Palgrave, in press.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2003). Enabling ethical economies: Cooperativism and class. Critical Sociology, 29, 123-164.

Huws, U. (2013). The underpinnings of class in the digital age: Living, labour and value. Socialist Register, 50, 80-107.

Irani, L. & Silberman, M. (2013). Turkopticon: Interrupting worker invisibility in Amazon Mechanical Turk. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Kostakis, V. & Bauwens, M. (2014) Network society and future scenarios for a collaborative economy. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Mansell, R. & Berdou, E. (2010). Political economy, the internet and FL/OSS development. In Hunsinger, J., Allen, M. & Klastrup, L. (Eds.) International handbook of Internet research (pp. 341-362). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Springer.

Moore, P. (2011). Subjectivity in the ecologies of P2P Production. The Journal of Fibreculture FCJ-119. Online.

Moore, P. & Taylor, P. A. (2009). Exploitation of the self in community-based software production: Workers’ freedoms or firm foundations? Capital & Class, 99-117.

O’Neil, M. (2015). Labour out of control: The political economy of capitalist and ethical organizations. Organization Studies, 1-21.

Söderberg, J. & O’Neil, M. (2014). ‘Introduction’. Book of Peer Production (pp. 2-3). Göteborg: NSU Press.


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“Productive Negation”: the inaugural issue of the Journal of Peer Production is now published


The Journal of Peer Production scrutinises the contradictions of peer (collaborative) production. It is thus situated in between grassroots initiatives and discussions driven by practitioners and activists and the debates taking place in academia. The inaugural issue’s theme, “Productive Negation”, aims to interrogate the role of peer production as a “work of the negative”, that is to say as a critical force. As the traditional left is struggling to come up with an adequate response to the mounting crisis of the capitalist system, contributors propose a range of interpretations about the relationship between the profit-oriented capitalist mode of production and the commons-based and oriented mode of peer production. The Journal of Peer Production also strives to make a small contribution to the reforming of scientific publishing. Taking a cue from Wikipedia, the journal publishes original article submissions, reviewers’ reports, and signals indicating how reviewers perceive the revised article. Our ambition
is to make the process of peer reviewing papers more transparent and more effective.

The inaugural issue is coordinated by Mathieu O’Neil. It includes three research papers, four invited comments and three debate papers:

George Dafermos, Authority in Peer Production: The Emergence of Governance in the FreeBSD Project

Stefano De Paoli, Vincenzo D’Andrea and Maurizio Teli, Why Free Software Is Not the Antonym of Commercial Software: Two Case Studies from Corporate and Volunteer Based Projects

Francesca Musiani, Caring About the Plumbing: On the Importance of Architectures in Social Studies of (Peer-to-Peer) Technology

Michel Bauwens, From the Theory of Peer Production to the Production of Peer Production Theory

Jakob Rigi, Peer to Peer Production as the Alternative to Capitalism: A New Communist Horizon

Christian Siefkes, Beyond Digital Plenty: Building Blocks for Physical Peer Production

Jean Zin, Changing the System of Production

Stefan Meretz, Peer Production and Societal Transformation: Ten Patterns Developed by the Oekonux Project

Maurizio Teli, Peer Production and Societal Transformation: A Practice-Based Perspective

Toni Prug, A Note on Evaluation Processes for Social Phenomena with Ambitious Claims


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Hack IT


Expanding the Frontiers of Hacking: Bio-punks, open hardware, and hackerspaces
A special issue of Critical Studies in Peer Production
Edited by: Johan Soderberg and Alessandro Delfanti

Call: 500-word abstract
Both theoretical and empirical contributions accepted

During the past two decades, hacking has chiefly been associated with software  development. This is now changing as new walks of life are being explored with a hacker mindset, thus bringing back to memory the origin of hacking in hardware development. Now as then, the hacker is characterised by an active approach to technology, undaunted by hierarchies and established knowledge, and finally a commitment to sharing information freely.

In this special issue of Critical Studies in Peer Production, we will investigate how these ideas and practices are spreading. Two cases which have caught much attention in recent years are open hardware development and garage biology. The creation of hacker/maker-spaces in many cities around the world has provided an infrastructure facilitating this development. We are looking for both empirical and theoretical contributions which critically engage with this new phenomenon. Every kind of activity which relates to hacking is potentially of interest.

Some theoretical questions which might be discussed in the light of this development include, but are not restricted to, the politics of hacking, the role of lay expertise, how the line between the community and markets is negotiated, how development projects are managed, and the legal implications of these practices. We welcome contributions from all the social sciences, including science & technology studies, design and art-practices, anthropology, legal studies, etc.

Interested authors should submit an abstract of no more than 500 words by July 10, 2011. Authors of accepted papers will be notified by July 31. All papers will be subject to peer review before being published.

Abstracts should be sent to

Critical Studies in Peer Production (CSPP) is a new open access, online journal  that focuses on the implications of peer production for social change.


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