Call for papers
Workshop at the ECPR 2008 Joint Sessions of Workshops
Friday 11th - Wednesday 16th April 2008, University of Rennes, France
Politics of Intellectual Property
Convenors: Sebastian Haunss (University of Konstanz, Germany) and
Kenneth C. Shadlen (London School of Economics, UK)
Intellectual property (IP) has become an issue of utmost importance
in the contemporary global economy. How should the private or
collective acquisition and control of knowledge be governed? Which
frameworks for managing IP are optimal for stimulating the production
of knowledge while also facilitating use? These overarching questions
are increasingly the subject of political conflicts over what types
of knowledge can and should be privately owned, and about how much
power owners should have to restrict access to privately owned
The prevailing regulatory model, first adopted in the OECD and
transmitted throughout the world by means of a variety of
multilateral and regional agreements, is informed by an expectation
that more and stronger intellectual property rights improves social
welfare. Yet as some actors push for continuous expansion of IPRs,
others point to the negative impact that strong private, exclusionary
rights over knowledge can have on downstream innovation and
consumers’ abilities to access critical knowledge-based goods.
Parallel to this welfare-based debate over the relative utilities of
different IP frameworks, another debate focuses on the philosophical,
ethical, and moral rationale for and objections to private ownership
of knowledge. In short, the increasing importance of intellectual
property in the global economy has been accompanied by a wide range
of political conflicts, as actors contest the structure, scope, and
boundaries of existing frameworks for establishing and regulating
intellectual property rights.
The following areas of conflict areas are notable, though this list
is far from comprehensive:
* Biodiversity: Patentability of genetic sequences of indigenous plants.
* Biomedical biotechnology: Patentability of genetically modified
life forms and genetic sequences.
* File Sharing: Pirate parties, copying and distribution of music and
* Public health: Access to essential medicines.
* Software: Patents for software (and business methods).
* Research Tools: Access to publicly funded research and the
availability of research tools.
* Technology Transfer: The constraints placed on industrial firms in
developing countries that seek to adapt advanced technologies to
Each of these issues raises complex economic, legal, and political
questions. And each provides illustration of the sorts of conflicts –
over utility and morality – indicated above.
Our workshop will examine these diverse lines of political conflict.
We invite participants to present papers that address these (and
other) areas of political conflict over IP. We welcome papers that do
so theoretically and/or empirically.
While the broad topic of intellectual property has received
considerable attention in recent years, particularly from lawyers and
activists, remarkably few political scientists have turned their
attention to this issue. Our workshop aims to encourage this
incipient research agenda and encourage scholars to direct their
analytic energies toward the politics of IP. As such, we invite
scholars working in international relations, political economy,
social movement studies, political sociology, and other fields to
confront their respective methodological perspectives and theoretical
assumptions in a productive exchange that promises to lead to a
fuller understanding of the social and political processes that
affect the governance of intellectual property.
Please submit abstracts by 1st December 2007 to:
Sebastian Haunss <sebastian.haunss [at] uni-konstanz.de> or
Kenneth Shadlen <k.shadlen [at] lse.ac.uk>
You can download a pdf-version of this call at: http://
For more information see the ECPR website: http://
Dr. Sebastian Haunss
University of Konstanz
email: sebastian.haunss at uni-konstanz.de