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Disruptive sharing in a digital age: rejecting neoliberalism?

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Some argue that neoliberalism can be seen as having negated its negation, namely socialism and communism, and become unquestionable and common sense. However, many practices from below resist, reject or at least disrupt the stringent property rights regime and the primacy of the market, two core elements of neoliberal ideology. Some of these practices of resistance are in the form of a disruption to or rejection of the commodity exchange model. In this article we address three modes of sharing in a digital context, embedded in a cultural exchange model - sharing code, sharing content and sharing access. These different practices of giving and sharing are analysed according to the way in which reciprocity is articulated, the extent to which they disrupt the capitalist model of commodity exchange, and the ways in which they interact or not with it. We conclude that all forms of digital sharing involve degrees of reciprocity, and that all sharing in digital contexts is gradually appropriated by capitalist logics, mainly through the creation of auxiliary revenues. Many sharing practices do not intend to reject or disrupt, so, while some sharing practices might constitute a (partial) disruption to the commodity exchange model, they may not necessarily result in its negation. Recent attempts by states and parts of the entertainment industry to discipline or coerce the revivified participatory culture and its cultural exchange ethic to fit the commodity exchange model raise serious concerns.

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