A World of Rents! Interrogating Rentier Capitalism 3: Technology & Rentiership

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Economic Geography Specialty Group
Organizers: Kean Birch, Renee Tapp, Callum Ward
Chairs: Kelly Kay


Organizers (alphabetical): Kean Birch (York University, Canada); Desiree Fields (University of California, Berkeley, USA); Kelly Kay (UCLA, USA); Sarah Knuth (University of Durham, UK); Jathan Sadowski (University of Sydney, Australia); Renee Tapp (Harvard University, USA); Callum Ward (UCL, UK)

Economic rents are usually characterized as a distortion of markets, a corruption of politics, or unearned (and undeserved) income; similar analytical and normative framings stretch across the political economic spectrum from right to left. Geographers are increasingly (re)engaging with the issue of rents, rent-seeking, and rentiership at different scales, in different places, and to different effects. While some focus on the emergence and development of new modes of rentier capitalism, others are more focused on mapping out the nitty-gritty, everyday practices entailed in the making of rents through the enclosure of assets. Across these different approaches is a common sense that, for those looking to extract value, a wide world of rents is beckoning — with all the problems it entails. These issues raise the following questions:

1. How are rentier relations manifesting within surveillance/digital/platform capitalism?
2. What models of rent-seeking and rentiership do we see emerging from the intersection of technology, real estate, land, and other interests? How are these rents being made?
3. How are (or are not) contemporary rentier relations connected to older forms of rent, rentiership, and rentier capitalism?
4. What political economies support the development of, and emerge from, this world of rents?
5. How are different social actors, regulations, and markets implicated in conflicts and contestations over redistributional rents?
6. How are rents and rent-seeking being positioned as matters of national, urban, and/or regional self-interest and economic strategy? Through what narratives and discursive devices are rent extraction being legitimated
7. In what ways has the increasing prevalence of rentiership been promoted or curbed by political struggle?
8. What difference does ‘nature’ and ‘materiality’ make to rent-seeking activities?


Type Details Minutes
Presenter Anna Artyushina*, York University, From “Data Protection” to “Data Donation”: Conceptualizing the Reuse of Personal Data in Policy Responses to Big Data 15
Presenter Jathan Sadowski*, The University of Sydney, A Political Ecology of Digital Ecosystems 15
Presenter David Wachsmuth*, McGill University, Data as rent in the platform economy 15
Presenter Julien Migozzi*, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris, The good, the bad and the data: digitalization of the rental market and social sorting in South Africa 15
Discussant Desiree Fields University of California, Berkeley 15

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