Author: Milberry, Kate
This dissertation is an exploration of alternative visions of social organization beyond the horizon of capitalism. As such it both a critique of the status quo in its current neoliberal capitalist configuration and a proposal for another world, a better world that has humanity—humaneness— as its central concern. The research trajectory parallels the transformation of the author from activist journalist into radical scholar, employing an open source methodology that interweaves the subject matter and the infuses core of a new mode of social existence. Thus the dialect between theory and practice comes alive for both researcher and “researched” even as the dialectical interplay between liberation and domination, as well as between society and technology, serves as theoretical assumptions underlying this dissertation. A critique of post-industrial theories enframing Information Society discourse as well as a consideration of the “newness” of information in the digital age, provide fertile ground for a discussion of tech activism in contemporary social movements. Using the framework of critical constructivism, I analyze how tech activists consciously design technology that embodies values of equality, freedom and justice. Their creation and appropriation of free software indicates a more general argument for open knowledge production as the basis for a new mode of work, and indeed, a new set of social relations. In reconstructing the internet along a democratic model and through a democratic process, I argue, tech activists are creating a model of social organization that is radically transformative, refusing the reductive limits of the neoliberal world order, and enacting the possibility of a better world now.
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