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Message posted on 14/03/2019

CfA: Digitalized Work and Social Emancipation

Dear Colleagues,
we're organizing a panel at this year's Swiss Sociological Association in
September on the topic "Digitalized Work and Social Emancipation". If you're
interested in the subject, we would be happy to receive your abstract at or by
20.04.2019 (maximum of 2000 characters, including spaces).
All the best,
Simon Schaupp and Philipp Frey


The future of work in current discussions is most intrinsically connected to
questions related to the power effects of digitalization. The current wave of
digitalization does not only bring about significant transformations in the
organization of work, but raises critical issues of social justice in highly
technologized societies at large. In this workshop, we invite contributions
with an analytical focus on the connections between digitalized industries and
social emancipation.

The idea of social emancipation through new technologies has been a recurring
theme in STS scholarship. Networked, digital fabrication technologies like 3D
printing were hailed as an empowerment of grassroots level "produsers" and
open source communities. Networked communication technologies, coupled with
the ubiquity of private computers were seen as a material precondition for
flat hierarchies. More recently, advances in medical technology sparked hopes
of body modification as enabling free development of the subjects beyond the
restrictions of dominant body norms.

This workshop aims to critically examine this emancipatory potential of the
digital transformation. We welcome papers that situate the digitalization of
work in larger social contexts.

The following questions could be posed, among others:

If most digital technology is produced in social contexts of domination, is
this domination inscribed into them, or can they be used for emancipatory
purposes as well? What does the increasing inclusion of computer-enabled
organizational decentralization (e.g. Open Innovation) into capital
accumulation mean for alternative forms of organizing? What is the reality of
the widespread automation of tasks across employment sectors? How could the
redistribution of automation's productivity gains be utilized to reshape
employment regimes and work organization in the future? How do digitally
enabled forms of mass customization affect body representation in the
production of medical- and consumer goods? Can such technologies be
appropriated by user communities to upend the ways such goods are produced?

We base these questions on a broad understanding of emancipation as the
elimination or reduction of domination on different levels, such as gender,
class, ethnicity or (dis)ability. Analysis at the intersection of these
categories are especially welcome. We welcome empirical, historical, as well
as theoretical analysis.
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