Struggling with Technology; A critical investigation of the role of the information and communication technology-sector in Stockholm’s regional development
Abstract: This thesis investigates the role of the local ICT-sector in Stockholm’s regional development over the last four decades. The inquiry is motivated, on the one hand, by economic polarization in the region and, on the other hand, by the increasing centrality of technical innovation in the region’s development over the last decades. The theoretical background is based on the literature that covers financialization and entrepreneurialization. These concepts are mobilized together with Marxist methodology to provide a critical perspective and to guide the analysis. The results of the inquiry are presented in the form of a historical narrative that describes how the Stockholm region’s ICT-sector has evolved from being dominated by industrial production of networks and mobile phones; to involving software development and Internet services; and then to revolve more and more around radical innovation, sharing economy applications and smart city technologies. This evolution is paralleled by a gradual retrenchment of corporate operations in the region. In their stead, startup companies, incubators, co-working spaces and angel investors proliferate. The thesis finds that the ICT-sector has had a transformative impact on the region by introducing business concepts and organizational forms that have transcended societal institutions, particularly institutions associated with the societal division between production and reproduction. The thesis also finds that the sector, due to the scaleable nature of digital services, has served as a profitable outlet for financial capital which have been central to the Stockholm region’s post-crises regenerations during the studied time-period.
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