John Locke’s Theory of Property

In On Government (1689), John Locke argued that there were social benefits to a government that allowed hard-working individuals to privatize natural resources and accumulate property. This question will ask you to consider the relevance of this theory to understanding media industries and infrastructures that have developed over the last century.

  • Paragraph 1: Summarize Locke’s theory of property. Point out 4 key assumptions he makes, quoting from the reading to provide evidence. (2 points)
  • Paragraph 2: Using Locke’s theory, assess how and when attention functions as a form of property for media industries. Refer explicitly to one of the case studies we read from Tim Wu’s book The Attention Merchants. (4 points)
  • Paragraph 3: Identify 2 limitations of Locke’s theory of property for creating sustainable, equitable living conditions today, and refer to a contemporary example for each. Draw examples from two of the following course readings to make your case: Farrell, Siegle, Bernat, Hawkins, Noble, Patel, Nadler et al., and/or Starosielski. (4 points)

Useful resources summary:

Lindgren (2017) argues that media are “environments for social interaction”

Lindgren book on digital divides and “Internet Competence” (146-49)

James Surowiecki (The undersea network. Durham: Duke University Press, 1-25)

Safiya Noble (conclusion. algorithms of oppression, 171-182), (algorithms of oppression, “a society searching”, 34-63);

But No outside citations. Only use your word.