Understanding How Open Government Data is Used in Capital Accumulation

Towards a Theoretical Framework


  • Edd Mustill




This article examines the role of open government data in capital accumulation. Open government data is a relatively new phenomenon that involves the pro-active and regular release of government data, in the form of downloadable records, for use and re-use by anyone. Private capitalist enterprises are among those who make use of such data. Publicly produced data is transferred into the hands of private capital through a non-rivalrous form of enclosure. Capital then uses government datasets to create new commodities by the application of skilled labor to the data, in processes including data mashup and data visualization. Inherent in all commodity production is the extraction of surplus value from labor by capital. This, together with the process of enclosure, provides opportunities for capital accumulation from open government data.