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Globalization from Below: Free Software and Alternatives to Neoliberalism


  • The author gratefully acknowledges readers’ comments on an earlier version. Translations from Portuguese by the author.


This article explores one of the central struggles over the politics of globalization: forging alternatives to neoliberalism by developing new forms of globalization from below. It focuses on a unique facet of this struggle, rooted in the centrality of information technologies for global trade and production, as well as new forms of media and digital culture. The analysis has four main parts: examining the key role of software as a technological infrastructure for diverse forms of globalization; conceptualizing the contradictory implications of three software business models for realizing the utopian potential of digital technology to develop forms of globalization from below; exploring how three free and open source software business models were put into practice by Red Hat, IBM and the Free Software Foundation; and analysing Brazilian software policy as a form of globalization from below that challenges the historical dominance of the global North and seeks to develop new forms of digital inclusion and digital culture.