Getting rich on disruption
That bit about the digital economy being the Great Leveller… well, it’s a bit of a story, says Andrew White, associate professor of creative industries & digital media at University of Nottingham. The digital economy is held up as an alternative model generating sustainable growth and narrow inequality, with low barriers to entry said to widen opportunities and lead to a more equitable distribution of wealth, says White in The Conversation. But it's not that simple.
The image of isolated digital entrepreneurs developing great companies goes hand-in-hand with radical sounding rhetoric about taking on vested interests, he points out. Cutting out the middle man is seen as a demonstrably good thing. “Thus, taxi drivers who complain about having their business taken away by Uber are often described as inflexible and prone to over-charging. But the middle-man has not disappeared in the digital economy – [he has] just got richer.”
What’s the solution?
How welcome it would be if funding bodies could increase the number of schemes which ask why the rapid growth of the digital economy over the past two decades has failed both to reduce inequality and save us from the most severe financial crisis since the 1930s, says White.