• Purpose – The paper seeks to reconsider open access and its relation to issues of “development” by
    highlighting the ties the open access movement has with the hegemonic discourse of development and
    to question some of the assumptions about science and scientific communication upon which the open
    access debates are based. The paper also aims to bring out the conflict arising from the convergence of
    the hegemonic discourses of science and development with the contemporary discourse of openness.
    Design/methodology/approach – The paper takes the form of a critical reading of a range of
    published work on open access and the so-called “developing world” as well as of various open access
    declarations. The argument is supported by insights from post-development studies.
    Findings – Open access is presented as an issue of moral concern beyond the narrow scope of
    scholarly communication. Claims are made based on hegemonic discourses that are positioned as a
    priori and universal. The construction of open access as an issue of unquestionable moral necessity
    also impedes the problematisation of its own heritage.
    Originality/value – This paper is intended to open up the view for open access’s less obvious
    alliances and conflicting discursive ties and thus to initiate a politisation, which is necessary in order
    to further the debate in a more fruitful way.