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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Governance and Politics of the Internet Economy--Historical Transformation or Ordinary Politics with a New Vocabulary?


Driven by two fundamental processes, rapid technological change as well as social innovation and reorganization, a new digital economy, the E-conomy, is emerging. Rather than merely adding an Internet sector to the economy, the E-conomy has brought about tools for thought, tools that transform every sector of the economy by amplifying brainpower the way steam engines amplified muscle power during the Industrial Revolution. For analytic purposes, the rise of the E-conomy can be told as a story composed of 1) networks and tools, 2) e-business and e-society, 3) the productivity dilemma resolved, and 4) governance and politics. In the short run, the transformative processes unleashed by the E-conomy are likely to lead to new bargains among existing coalitions and interest groups. In the long run, the changes underway promise to fundamentally alter the political sociology of vast communities, give rise to new interests and coalitions, and transform the institutional foundation of social, economic and political life.

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