Our world is not a pure market economy - we gift things too
From a blog in The Conversation: An excerpt:
We tend to take it for granted that our economy is a market economy. Mainstream economics is particularly committed to that idea. Indeed its core concepts depend on it: supply and demand curves and equilibrium prices make no real sense outside the context of markets. But today in large parts of the most dynamic sector of our economy, the market is either absent or only one part of the story.
Of course the digital economy includes companies such as Apple and Amazon selling products in markets, but it also includes very different models. The web is the realm of the gift. The vast majority of the pages we download are free – and sites such as Wikipedia are sophisticated examples of the gift economy in action.
Even some of the most successful commercial companies, such as Google and Facebook, depend on business models that hybridise gift practices and the market. The commodities they sell depend utterly on the gifts that they give.
To make sense of these gift and hybrid forms of economy, my research in the book Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy develops the idea that we should think of the economy as an interacting mix of market and non-market practices.