20. The Political Economy of Personal Information

  1. Janet Wasko2,
  2. Graham Murdock3 and
  3. Helena Sousa PhD4
  1. Oscar H. Gandy

Published Online: 18 APR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444395402.ch20

The Handbook of Political Economy of Communications

The Handbook of Political Economy of Communications

How to Cite

Gandy, O. H. (2011) The Political Economy of Personal Information, in The Handbook of Political Economy of Communications (eds J. Wasko, G. Murdock and H. Sousa), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444395402.ch20

Editor Information

  1. 2

    University of Oregon, USA

  2. 3

    Loughborough University, UK

  3. 4

    Communication Sciences Department, University of Minho, Portugal

Author Information

  1. University of Pennsylvania, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 APR 2011
  2. Published Print: 15 APR 2011

Book Series:

  1. Global Handbooks in Media and Communication Research

Book Series Editors:

  1. Annabelle Sreberny

Series Editor Information

  1. School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405188807

Online ISBN: 9781444395402



  • political economy of personal information;
  • information, not tangible - but tangible through process of abstraction and symbolic representation;
  • information's intangibility, difficulty in managing - control or limit access;
  • information about individuals - personal information (PI), role in identification, classification;
  • theories of value, dominant theories - of value rising and falling, changes in economy;
  • debates, nature of productive forces - failing to resolve critical issues, used in promotion of sales;
  • unpaid labor, criticism of classical economic theory - feminists, mainstream excluding labor;
  • contribution to market value of commodities - incorporation into their lives;
  • valuation of personal information - value of PI, estimating value of information goods, troublesome;
  • estimating value of PI, at its origin - markets for personal information


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Introduction

  • Theories of Value

  • Unpaid Labor

  • The Labor of Consumption

  • The Valuation and Pricing of Intangibles

  • The Valuation of Personal Information

  • Estimating the Value of PI at its Origin

  • Negative Value, or Consumer Sensitivity

  • Willingness to Pay as a Source of Valuation

  • The Capture of PI

  • Markets in Personal Information

  • Tomorrow's Market

  • References