“There's an App for That”: Technical Standards and Commodification by Technological Means

Philosophy and Technology 25 (1):87-103 (2012)
Though the term “commodification” is used broadly, a theory of the processes by which goods become exchangeable and in fact objects of monetized exchange reveals a key site for technological politics. Commodities are goods that are alienable, somewhat rival, generally with low exclusion costs, and that are often consumed in use. Technological advances can affect all of these traits for certain goods, effectively bringing about a process of commodification by technological means. However, in order to function with specific contexts, technologies are designed and manufactured according to technical standards, standards that in turn take on features of what David Grewal ( 2008 ) has called “network power.” As such, standard setting processes become the potential locus for political argument over the legitimacy of a commodification process. Theorists hoping to develop more democratic theories of technological governance should thus recognize the significance of standards and the role they play in either promoting or controlling social relations organized according to the norms of monetized exchange.
Keywords Technical standards  Innovation  Political economy  Critical theory  Networks  Animals  Environmental Ethics  Philosophy of technology
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DOI 10.1007/s13347-011-0029-4
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