Sources of P2P Theory

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'Classic' Authors and Books

Relational Grammars

Alan Page Fiske: Structures of Social Life

The foundational manuscript on P2P theory, uses the relational model used by anthropologist Alan Page Fiske, to conclude that the peer to peer relational dynamic is a form on 'non-reciprocal' or generalized exchange. In Fiske's model, it is called Communal Shareholding.

The implication is that Peer Production does not function as a Gift Economy (which corresponds to Fiske's category called Equality Matching), as is often mistakenly claimed.

Basic article by Fiske at

See our wiki entry at: Relational Model Typology - Fiske

Kojin Karatani: The Structure of World History

Whereas Fiske establishes a relational grammar that one can in find throughout historical periods and in every cultural sphere, Karatani historicizes their role as dominant form for particular civilizational forms, as they succeed each other through cultural and societal evolution.

Karatani_Kojin, is a Japanese political theorist and philosopher who is one of the co-founders of the defunct Japanese New Associationist Movement‎ and the author of a book on the Evolution of the Structure of World History Through Modes of Production and Modes of Exchange. The book establishes a history of modes of relationship and allocation of resources

The evolution of cooperation: Multi-Level Selection Theory

Interpretations of History and Human Societal Evolution

Wave-Pulse Theory and Mark Whitaker's work on Ecological Revolutions Throughout Human History

Wave Pulse theories are cyclical theories of human history, which sees societies evolving in a succession of more extractive/degradative phases, and more regenerative phases in which the commons operate as a key 'healing' mechanism. Peter Turchin's Secular Cycles is a good overview of how these cycles operate in agrarian societies, while Karl Polanyi focuses on the internal 'Kondratieff' type cycles within capitalism, in his masterpiece history of the emergence of industrial capitalism, at the end of the 17th cy., until 1945, i.e. The Great Transformation. Mark Whitaker's stellar book on ecological revolutions in China, Japan and Europe. P2P Theory is influenced by the findings of a two-year sabbatical investigation into phase transitions in human history, and draws on this body of historical interpretation. If you mix historical evolution as a trend towards increased complexity and scale, and technical-scientific knowledge, with the polarity switches indicated by wave-pulse theory, you get a vision of human evolution that is somewhat akin to a spiral-type development. Deep phase transitions are also important 'mutations' in human collective mentalities and forms of subjective consciousness. This is where the integrative work of Peter Pogany comes in, in his book, Rethinking the World, which integrates the work of the integral philosopher and cultural historian Jean Gebser.

Karl Polanyi: The Great Transformation

Peter Pogany: Rethinking the World

Theories of the Commons

Elinor Ostrom: Governing the Commons

The P2P Foundation first phase of research was directed towards the peer production of 'immaterial' goods, such as free software, open design and shared knowledge, i.e. also sometimes called open source production, which operates around digital knowledge-based commons; the second phase was dedicated to urban commons, i.e. the mutualization of physical resources; and the third phase is dedicated to actual physical production, what we call Cosmo-Local Production. In this context, the pioneering work of Elinor Ostrom, which focused on the multi-millenial history of natural resource commons (mainly but not exclusively), is of course a very important reference.

The Ecological turn: commons economics are bio-social-physical economics

Mark Whitaker: Ecological Revolution: The Political Origins of Environmental Degradation and the Environmental Origins of Axial Religions

Kate Raworth's synthesis on the Doughnut Economy

The participatory turn in human consciousness: Jorge Ferrer and John Heron

Jean Gebser: The Ever-Present Origin

John Heron: Sacred Science

Jorge Ferrer: Participatory Turn in Transpersonal Psychology

Our roots in the 'integral left'

Contemporary Researchers

  • Adam Arvidsson
  • Enzio Manzini
  • Christian Iaione
  • Kevin Carson
  • Daniel Schmachtenberger and Jordan Hall