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Message posted on 16/11/2020

CFP Digital Mistrust: Rethinking trust in digitalizing societies

                Dear colleagues,

Please find below our call for papers for a special issue on Digital
Mistrust: Rethinking trust in digitalizing societies.

For those who are interested in the topic, please send an abstract (250-300
words) and a short author bio (approx. 50 words) to Kristoffer Albris
( no later
than February 1st 2021. Provisional drafts papers expected by September 1st

We are looking forward to receiving your contributions,

On behalf of the editorial team
James, Kristoffer, and Lise

Digital mistrust: Rethinking trust in digitalizing societies

While there is little agreement within academia, and beyond, as to the precise
meaning of the term trust, there is broad consensus as to its importance
across various societal scales; whether it be relations between states,
between citizens and states, within communities, institutions, and
organizations, or the plethora of interpersonal relationships that are
formative of everyday practice. Trust is said to enhance our ability to make
agreements with one another, to uphold contractual arrangements, to promote
self-expression, to reduce crime, and even to generate more happiness. In
welfare societies, in particular, trust is seen as a key societal resource
that must be nurtured and guarded in order to maintain welfare in challenging
times. Recently, trust has become an object of rigorous measurement and an
important rhetorical asset in political discourse. As a result, measuring the
general level of trust between groups and institutions in society has become
common, and such measurements are increasingly seen as primary health
indicators of the body politic.

Within academia, research describing, and conceptualizing trust has developed
within the confines of various social science disciplines. In economics, trust
is broadly seen as a way to reduce complexity and facilitate smoother
exchanges of information within economic systems (Moore 1994; Gambetta 1988;
Williamson 1993). In sociology, trust is integral to ongoing discussions about
social cohesion and social capital (Hooghe 2007; Putnam 2000) and is seen as
an important aspect of the distribution of power among groups in society
(Seligman 2000, Luhmann 2018). Political scientists talk of trust in various
modes; institutional, social, and political. In particular, the role of trust
in the functioning of political and electoral systems, or how trust in
government institutions varies across different socio-political groups are
common concerns (Rose et al. 2013). In anthropology, trust and its converse,
mistrust, are generally emphasized as having culturally specific, social, and
socio-economic forms (Carey 2017; Mhlfried 2017, 2019). As such, trust is
often seen as entangled in ethical regimes and institutional economies of
information, audit accountability and transparency (Strathern 2000, Jimenez

Today, scholars are posing questions about how a veritable explosion in
digitally mediated relations are both conditional upon long standing relations
of trust, and potentially disruptive of those very relations. While trust in
technology, knowledge and expertise has been a long-standing area of social
scientific enquiry  especially within Science and Technology Studies (STS)
and the history of technology (Jasanoff 2009, MacKenzie 1998, Porter 1996) 
rapid digitalization, we claim, inflects questions of trust in ways that are
both historically congruent and disjunctive. However, the notion of the
digital here needs to be broadened out to account for the effects that
digitally mediated relations have on what might be classically conceived as
the non-digital (or, analogue). While the litany of controversies over data
ethics and predictive technologies grows daily, as does the appearance of
large technology companies performing mea culpas before democratically elected
legislatures around the world  asking the public to, once again, trust
theman unease around who, what, and how we can trust in ever-increasingly
digitally mediated relationships continues.

Shoshanna Zuboff asserts that questions of trust reside at the heart of
surveillance capitalism (2019). The effort to create fully datafied
societies, she argues, is shrouded in under-articulated risks where questions
of monitoring and compliance have already begun to supersede those of
governance. For Zuboff, this represents a form of machinic sociality and
politics, one that displaces uncertainty, mutual obligation, and reciprocity 
the very forms that social scientists argue trust takes  and, in the process,
evacuates the need for trust. One response to this critique  from within
computer science, data analytics, and design circles  is to embrace such
machinic thinking more comprehensively by designing for trust within digital
infrastructures and software architectures (Bruun, Andersen & Mannov 2020).
Other approaches are concerned with the need to reconceptualize not just what
trust in the digital and in data might mean, but importantly what kinds of
relations of trust and mistrust are emerging between state actors, private
corporations and citizens in the age of rapid digitalization (Sheikh and Hjer

The aim of this special issue is to gather a collectiveanthropologists, STS
scholars, and researchers from cognate disciplineswho are actively working
with questions of (mis)trust in digitalizing contexts. We invite contributions
that have been developed through research on trust from among topics such as:

  *   Coding, software, and algorithms.
  *   Digital infrastructures.
  *   Social credit systems.
  *   Surveillance, cryptography, Distributed ledger technologies.
  *   Fake news and disinformation.
  *   Predictive technologies.
  *   Big Tech regulation.
  *   Data governance.
  *   The digitalization of the public sector and corporate organizations.
  *   Digital methods and quali-quant mixed methods approaches.
  *   Anti-digitalization movements.
  *   Attention and digital distractions.

While the contributions can be heterogeneous in their empirical and analytical
garbs, they must share a commitment to producing robust and analytically
creative accounts around questions of (mis)trust and the digital.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have questions or comments
regarding any of the above.

About the editors:

Kristoffer Albris is Assistant Professor at Copenhagen Center for Social Data
Science (SODAS) and Anthropology, University of Copenhagen. His research
focuses on data governance, digital attention, climate disasters, and
quali-quantitative methods. Contact:

Lise Rjskjr Pedersen is Assistant Professor at the IT University of
Copenhagen. Her research interests focus on organizational anthropology,
knowledge aesthetics, datafication and public digitalization. Contact:

James Maguire is Assistant Professor at the IT University of Copenhagen. His
research focuses on the digital anthropocene, digital infrastructures, digital
territories and governance, as well as energy and the environment. Contact:

James Maguire
Assistant Professor, PhD
Technologies in Practice| Department of Business
IT| Research
IT University of Copenhagen | Rued Langgaards Vej 7 | 2300 Copenhagen S
Office 3BO7 | Tel: +45 7218 5000 / Direct: +45 50497551|


[demime 1.01d removed an attachment of type application/pdf which had a name of CfP Special Issue - Digital Mistrust.pdf]
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