1st Edition

Digitalization and Social Change A Guide in Critical Thinking

By Kristine Ask, Roger Andre Søraa Copyright 2024
    318 Pages 74 Color Illustrations
    by Chapman & Hall

    318 Pages 74 Color Illustrations
    by Chapman & Hall

    318 Pages 74 Color Illustrations
    by Chapman & Hall

    Digitalization is shaping our everyday lives, yet navigating the changes it entails can feel like trekking into the unknown, where both the possibilities and the consequences are unclear and difficult to grasp. Exploring how digitalization affects all aspects of our lives, from health to culture, this book aims to develop and strengthen the reader’s ability to think critically about such developments.

    Written in a clear and concise manner with reference to science fiction and pop culture, this book presents potent theoretical perspectives for understanding digitalization processes as societal change. Various exercises are included throughout to encourage readers to critically explore digitalization in their own lives.

    Replete with illustrations and examples, this book is an accessible guide to digitalization in the modern societal context, appealing to students at the undergraduate level as well as general readership.


    Section 1

    Chapter 1: Getting lost in a the digital

    1.1 Limited or liberated by ubiquitous digital technology?

    1.2 It Could Be Otherwise (ICBO) – the foundation of critical thinking

    1.3 Opening the black box

    1.4 A response to political and corporate solutionism

    1.5 Digitalization as a topic for Science and Technology Studies (STS)

    1.6 A critical sociotechnical perspective

    1.7 The structure of the book

    1.8 Conclusion


    Chapter 2: What is "digitalization," exactly?

    2.1 Digitalization as technological fix

    2.2 Defining digitalization

    2.3 Defining digitalization as a political act in itself

    2.4 A digitalized world

    2.5 Digitalization as a sociotechnical process

    2.6 Conclusion



    Section 2

    Chapter 3: A sociotechnical perspective on digitalization

    3.1 What is a sociotechnical perspective on digitalization?

    3.2 What do we mean by "technology"?

    3.3 Technologies and their agency

    3.4 Why technological determinism is a dead end

    3.5 Technological reductionism

    3.6 How social determinism is equally problematic

    3.7 Conclusion


    Chapter 4: Domestication: User perspectives on technology

    4.1 A user perspective on technology

    4.2 Domestication theory

    4.3 The dimensional model of domestication

    4.4 The history of domestication

    4.5 Strengths and weaknesses of domestication theory

    4.6 Re-domestication and dis-domestication

    4.7 What non-users can teach us about the use of technology

    4.8 Normativity and use

    4.9 Conclusion


    Chapter 5: Script: Technology’s manual for use

    5.1 Script as technology’s manual

    5.2 The historical and theoretical position of script theory

    5.3 How do you do a script analysis?

    5.4 Making scripts through technology development

    5.5 Conclusion


    Chapter 6: Technologies as normality machines

    6.1 A thought experiment on a student app

    6.2 Technology as inclusion or exclusion?

    6.3 Scripting the use and users to create differences

    6.4 The digital divide

    6.5 Conclusion


    Chapter 7: Digital technologies in the past and present

    7.1 Becoming a communication society

    7.2 What comes after the communication society?

    7.3 Digitalization and some sample diagnoses of the times

    7.4 Conclusion



    Section 3

    Chapter 8: Digitalization of health: Networks of care and technology

    8.1 In search of good health: Robots to the rescue?

    8.2 Digital technology for better health?

    8.3 Talking flowerpots: Welfare technology in the home

    8.4 Exergames: Gamifying health

    8.5 Support groups in social media: Communities for mental health

    8.6 Digitalization makes the actor network of health visible

    8.7 Conclusion


    Chapter 9: Digitalization of work: Automation, responsibility, and reskilling

    9.1 Two visions of future work

    9.2 From animal laborans to homo faber

    9.3 Automating workers?

    9.4 Who operates self-service checkouts?

    9.5 The digital stopwatch and the attempt to automate care work

    9.6 Craftspeople at construction sites working with robots

    9.7 What will we do in the future—and how will we do it?

    9.8 Conclusion


    Chapter 10: Digitalization of control: Surveillance, automation, and algorithms

    10.1 Control through surveillance and digital tracking

    10.2 Control of animals using virtual fences

    10.3 Care, technology, and the desire for boundaries when surveilling children

    10.4 Predictive police algorithms: Surveillance of data sets and predictions of the future

    10.5 Life in a surveillance society: What digitalization does to surveillance

    10.6 Conclusion


    Chapter 11: Digitalization of culture: Remix, community, and prosumers

    11.1 SKAM and transmedia storytelling

    11.2 Remix culture as the foundation of digital culture

    11.3 Understanding where remix culture comes from: Participatory culture and networked publics

    11.4 Memes: Collective creativity, both serious and humorous

    11.5 Fan fiction: When fans take ownership of the story

    11.6 Twitch.tv and livestreaming games: How innovative gamers made one of the world’s biggest platforms

    11.7 Discussion: Prosumers’ new cultural expressions

    11.8 Conclusion


    Chapter 12: Digitalization of the self: Selfies, influencers and the quantified self

    12.1 Picture perfect? What "Instagram vs. reality" can teach us about being fakeness and authenticity online

    12.2 From anonymity to persistent identities on the internet

    12.3 Frontstage, backstage, and the cyborg’s theater

    12.4 Selfies: The cyborg’s self-portrait?

    12.5 Influencers: The professionalized digital self

    12.6 The quantified self: Believing in a countable and optimized self

    12.7 Discussion: The cyborg’s expanded toolbox

    12.8 Conclusion



    Section 4

    Chapter 13: Digitalization summarized

    13.1 Part 1: A critical perspective on digitalization

    13.2 Part 2: Theoretical Tools

    13.3 Part 3: Empirical case studies

    13.4 Digitalization as social change

    13.5 A user perspective on digitalization

    13.6 Critical thinking about digitalization

    Chapter 14: Analytical cheat sheet: A guide for thinking critically about digitalization

    14.1 Interpretative flexibility

    14.2 Delegation

    14.3 Actor-network

    14.4 Script

    14.5 Domestication

    Chapter 15: Methods cheat sheet: How to study digitalization

    15.1 Research question: What are you going to find out?

    15.2 Choosing method: How are you going to find it?

    15.3 Tips for getting good data

    15.4 From data to analysis


    Kristine Ask is an Associate Professor in Science and Technology Studies (STS), at the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway. She researches emergent user practices and communities online, spanning from games to social media and memes. Dr. Ask has a particular interest in internet culture that is dismissed as frivolous or mundane.

    Roger A. Søraa is an Associate Professor in Science and Technology Studies (STS), at the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway. His research focus is on automation, robotization, and the digitalization of society—how humans and technology relate to each other. Dr. Søraa is especially interested in the social domestication of technology and how different groups are impacted by technology.