The Technologisation of the Social
A Political Anthropology of the Digital Machine
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In an era of digital revolution, artificial intelligence, big data and augmented reality, technology has shifted from being a tool of communication to a primary medium of experience and sociality. Some of the most basic human capacities are increasingly being outsourced to machines and we increasingly experience and interpret the world through digital interfaces, with machines becoming ever more ‘social’ beings. Social interaction and human perception are being reshaped in unprecedented ways. This book explores this technologisation of the social and the attendant penetration of permanent liminality into those aspects of the lifeworld where individuals had previously sought some kind of stability and meaning. Through a historical and anthropological examination of this phenomenon, it problematises the underlying logic of limitless technological expansion and our increasing inability to imagine either ourselves or our world in other than technological terms. Drawing on a variety of concepts from political anthropology, including liminality, the trickster, imitation, schismogenesis, participation, and the void, it interrogates the contemporary technological revolution in a manner that will be of interest to sociologists, social and anthropological theorists and scholars of science and technology studies with interests in the digital transformation of social life.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Technologisation of the Social: A 21st-Century Megamachine?
1. Communication as Theatricalisation: Self-Presentation in the Digital Age
2. Parasites of the Social: Digital Disruptions of the Labour Market
3. Possessed by Technology: The Metastasis of Absence
4. Technologisation of the Social: Symbiosis, Parasitism, or Predation?
5. J'accuse Zéro: The Technology of Zero and the Making of a Personal Void
6. Digital Affordances and the Liminal
7. The Smart Womb: Digital Technologies and the Maze of Trickster Politics
Marius Ion Benta
8. Brave New Industry? The Dark Side of Dematerialisation and Industry 4.0
Thomas S.J. Smith
9. ‘What Have You Caught?’: Nannycams and Hidden Cameras as Normalised Surveillance of the Intimate
Janos Mark Szakolczai
10. Coercive Visibility: Discipline in the Digital Public Arena
Conclusion: Is There a Way Out of the Technologisation of the Social?
Marius Ion Benta
Paul O’Connor is Assistant Professor in the Department of Government and Society at United Arab Emirates University. He is the author of Home: The Foundations of Belonging.
Marius Ion Benta is Research Fellow in the Department of Social and Human Studies at the George Barițiu History Institute, Romania. He is the co-editor of Walling, Boundaries and Liminality: A Political Anthropology of Transformations and the author of Experiencing Multiple Realities: Alfred Schutz’s Sociology of the Finite Provinces of Meaning.