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The Political Economy of Academic Publishing

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The digitisation of academic journals has created the technical possibility that research can be made available to any interested party free of charge. This possibility has been undermined by the proprietary control that commercial publishers exercise over the majority of this material. The control of commercial publishers over publicly-funded research has been criticised by charitable bodies, politicians and academics themselves. While the existing critical literature on academic publishers has considerable value, it fails to link questions of control within the journal-industry to the wider restructuring of economic and social relations that has taken place over the last three decades. This article seeks to complement this literature by highlighting how broader profitability pressures and the subsequent attempts by state-managers to expand the social space for capitalist accumulation have structured the development of the journal-industry.

Affiliations: 1: University of Warwick;, Email:


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