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The future of platforms, big data and new forms of capital accumulation

Bhabani Shankar Nayak (Business School for the Creative Industries, University for the Creative Arts at Epsom, Epsom, UK)
Nigel Walton (Coventry Business School, Coventry University, Coventry, UK)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 27 February 2023

Issue publication date: 18 March 2024

434

Abstract

Purpose

The paper argues that the classical Marxist theory of capitalist accumulation is inadequate to understand new forms of capitalism and their accumulation processes determined by “platforms” and “big data”. Big data platforms are shaping the processes of production, labour, the price of products and market conditions. “Digital platforms” and “big data” have become an integral part of the processes of production, distribution and exchange relations. These twin pillars are central to the capitalist accumulation processes. The article argues that the classical Marxist theory of capitalist accumulation is inadequate to understand new forms of capitalism and their accumulation processes determined by “platforms” and “big data”.

Design/methodology/approach

As a conceptual paper, this paper follows critical methodological lineages and traditions based on non-linear historical narratives around the conceptualisation, construction and transition of the “Marxist theory of capital accumulation” in the age of platform economy. This paper follows a discourse analysis (Fairclough, 2003) to locate the way in which an artificial intelligence (AI)-led platform economy helps identify and conceptualise new forms of capitalist accumulation. It engages with Jørgensen and Phillips' (2002) contextual and empirical discursive traditions to undertake a qualitative comparative analysis by exploring a broad range of complex factors with case studies and examples from leading firms within the platform economy. Finally, it adopts two steps of “Theory Synthesis and Theory Adaptation” as outlined by Jaakkola (2020) to synthesise, adopt and expand the Marxist theory of capital accumulation under platform capitalism.

Findings

This article identifies new trends and forms of data driven capitalist accumulation processes within the platform capitalism. The findings suggest that an AI led platform economy creates new forms of capitalist accumulation. The article helps to develop theoretical understanding and conceptual frameworks to understand and explain these new forms of capital accumulation.

Originality/value

This study builds upon the limited theorisation on the AI and new capitalist accumulation processes. This article identifies new trends and forms of data driven capitalist accumulation processes within platform capitalism. The article helps to understand digital and platform capitalisms in the lens of digital labour and expands the theory of capitalist accumulation and its new forms in the age of datafication. While critiquing the Marxist theory of capitalist accumulation, the article offers alternative approaches for the future.

Keywords

Citation

Nayak, B.S. and Walton, N. (2024), "The future of platforms, big data and new forms of capital accumulation", Information Technology & People, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 662-676. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-05-2022-0409

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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