Commons-based Communities: Viable Alternatives to Digital Capitalism?


The Hans Böckler Foundation at re:publica 2018 (Part 1)

re:publica 18 Session Commons-based Communities

re:publica 18 Session on Stage 8, Wednesday, 2 May 2018, 19:45–20:45

Amazon, Facebook, Google, Uber – an increasing part of our digital
infrastructure is controlled by a small number of companies. Are there
alternatives to these companies who make profits from our data and our
willingness to share?

The history of the digital society is shaped by continuous struggles between large monopolistic corporations and small groups of hackers and innovators inspired by a culture of sharing and open innovation and a vision of a more democratic and fair society. Nowadays digital capitalism exploits the culture of sharing by exploiting the voluntary contributions of users and low-paid work of independent contractors. Profit-driven digital platforms monopolize the infrastructure of our common digital future.

However, new alternatives emerge to challenge these monopolistic platforms. The session will discuss some of these alternatives, in particular platform cooperatives and biohacker communities. How can these efforts challenge the power of the big players? How can they create fairer and more democratic labour relations?

  • Jan-Felix Schrape, sociologist at the University of Stuttgart, will give an overview over new commons-based communities. His main question is: How can these communities learn from former efforts to challenge digital capitalism? Are their chances that these new communities keep their subversive power?
  • Gabriela A. Sanchez, PhD student at the University of Geneva, will take a closer look at the Do-it-Yourself biotech movement and the biohacker identity and culture. How can these movements create viable alternatives to patent-driven monopolistic research?
  • Leonhard Dobusch, University of Innsbruck, is an expert for digital communities and transnational copyright regulation. Apart from is academic work which covers a wide field of topics from free culture to governance across borders he is a well-known author for influential weblogs such as and


Kategorien Digitalisierung, Commons