chapter  1
57 Pages

The Immaterial Economy

ByNico Stehr, Dustin Voss

Money and finance are now at the heart of capitalism and economic policies. The transformation of the industrial into an immaterial economy also implies a significant acceleration of economic activities. A concomitant manifestation of the immaterial economy is a shift in the rate of investment toward intangible assets or the digital infrastructure/platforms of the immaterial economy compared to investments in tangible assets. The chapter investigates the transformation that represents a significant change of the economic structure of both, industrial economies and modern societies that are assumed to have a knowledge-based economy. For the time being, the term “symbolic commodities” should be put in quotation marks to preclude the simple assumption that the full range of symbolic commodities carries the economic, legal, and practical attributes of conventional commodities. The concentration of money affected by the big investors have become an autonomous force, controlled solely by bankers, who increasingly favor speculation—financial operations for ends that are purely financial—over productive investment.