CFP: The Critical Power of Free Software: from Intellectual Property to Epistemologies? » Journal of Peer Production

The Critical Power of Free Software: from Intellectual Property to Epistemologies? » Journal of Peer Production.

From the perspective of social organization, Free Software can be conceived as a form of critique by adaptability and modifiability, as pointed out by anthropologist Christopher Kelty [Two Bits, 2008], standing outside institutionalized forms of power and providing working alternatives as critical tools. Starting from this kind of understanding, Free Software has been interpreted as a form of critique toward consolidated and contemporary capitalistic forms, such as the extension of Intellectual Property over any kind of common pool resources, or the forms of organization of labour of distributed developers.

Nevertheless, the increasing adoption of Free Software by multi-national corporations points to increasing domestication of free software practices by contemporary global capitalism and to the expansion of hierarchical forms of social organization. This is particularly apparent in the form of the Open Source dialect, through the extensive overlapping of open source discourse with capitalistic discourses, such as that on legitimate hybrid business models, combining open source and proprietary licensing.

Such perspective requires that the critical power of Free Software be brought under scrutiny, moving from the undermining of the discourses of Intellectual Property, organization of work or hierarchy, to the understanding of the epistemological implications for computer science and software engineering. From this point of view, arguments that see the epistemology of computing as the locus of production and reproduction of long-standing inequalities in power relationships, are suggesting new areas of enquiry. Is Free Software a form of critique of the epistemological basis of computing? Is it possible to connect its critique of Intellectual Property and organizational forms to the critique of software development premises as a professional and research practice?
Those are the questions this special issue is trying to answer. To promote an interdisciplinary debate, we encourage submissions of theoretical and empirical papers authored both by social scientists, in a broad sense, and by computer scientists (joint papers are most welcome). We expect the authors to envision the potential for Free Software of being a form of cultural, practical, and material critique.

Call: 500-word abstract

Important Dates:

August 31st, 2012: Abstract Submission (max 500 words)
September 15, 2012: Abstract Evaluation and Communication
December 15th, 2012: Full Paper Submission
February 15th, 2013: First Review Completion
May 15th, 2013: Final Submission
June 2013: Signalling and Publication


Through contact form or straight to the editors, via email at and

The Journal of Peer Production (JoPP) is a new open access, online journal that focuses on the implications of peer production for social change.