International Politics

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 277–296 | Cite as

The relevance of understanding code to international political economy

  • David M Berry
Original Article


This article argues that international political economy (IPE) needs to engage in a close reading of computer code. This, I argue, will open up IPE to a very important resource for understanding and explaining many of the forces of capitalism operating today and which are instantiated and reflected within computer code. I also suggest a way in which the ‘global’, particularly in relation to financial markets and systems, might be read from within the new space of flows represented by computer code and software. There is no doubt at all that software is a hugely important global industry, and that software is critical to the functioning of multinational companies, governments and non-governmental institutions. Therefore, it is curious that so little attention is paid to code itself as an empirical object within IPE. In this article, I want to introduce some of the main contours of the debate and introduce some important concepts for why a close reading of code could be useful to IPE scholars.


code software international political economy source code open source software studies 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M Berry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political and Cultural StudiesCollege of Arts and Humanities, Swansea UniversitySwanseaUK

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