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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Digital Innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Epochal Social Changes?

Loris Caruso

According to the main representations of Industry 4.0. by private and public institutions, its effects are expected to be mainly positive, for what regards productivity, economic opportunities and the future of work. The positive potentials now attributed to the new cycle of innovation evoke and expand those attributed to the previous waves of innovation linked to ITC technologies, and, even before, to the transition from Fordism to Post-Fordism. However, these transformations have so far not achieved any of the promises they raised. Improvements for workers in terms of work conditions, work performance and work relationships cannot be determined by any technical innovation in itself, being technological innovation always socially shaped.

Type: Journal Article
Year: 2017

ITC technologies have come to comprehensively represent images and expectations of the future. Hopes of ongoing progress, economic growth, skill upgrading and possibly also democratisation are attached to new ICTs as well as fears of totalitarian control, alienation, job loss and insecurity.

Currently, with the terms Industry 4.0. and ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution” (FIR), public institutions (such as the national governments of Germany, Us, Italy, France, and Hollande), private institutions (the World Economic Forum, Hedge Funds, commercial banks), and literature refer to the inchoate transformation of production of goods and services resulting from the application of a new wave of technological innovations: interconnected collaborative robots; machine learning; Artificial Intelligence; 3D printers connected to digital development software; simulation of interconnected machines; integration of the information flow along the value chain; multidirectional communication between manufacturing processes and products (Internet of Things).

According to the main representations of Industry 4.0. by private and public institutions, its effects are expected to be mainly positive, for what regards productivity, economic opportunities and the future of work. The positive potentials now attributed to the new cycle of innovation evoke and expand those attributed to the previous waves of innovation linked to ITC technologies, and, even before, to the transition from Fordism to Post-Fordism. However, these transformations have so far not achieved any of the promises they raised. Improvements for workers in terms of work conditions, work performance and work relationships cannot be determined by any technical innovation in itself, being technological innovation always socially shaped.

Caruso, L. (2017) 'Digital Innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Epochal Social Changes?’. Artificial Intelligence & Society: Knowledge, Culture, and Communication. DOI: 10.1007/s00146-017-0736-1

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News

24/09/2017

New Publication Out - "Social movements and referendums from below. Direct democracy in the neoliberal crisis"

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A timely publication to shed light on the link between social movements that formed as a consequence of the 2008 financial crash and the referendums' dynamic and results.

25/08/2017

Donatella Della Porta con Yanis Varoufakis alla 13esima conferenza ESA

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Wednesday, August 30th (8pm-9.30pm) professor della Porta, who directs the Center on Social Movement Studies(Cosmos), will dialogue with Yanis Varoufakis, Greek Minister of Finance during the first Tsipras government, about the future of Europe and the social consequences of neoliberal economies

08/06/2017

Call for Papers - Cosmos Conference "The Contentious Politics of Higher Education. Student Movements in Late Neoliberalism"

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The Centre on Social Movement Studies, directed by Professor Donatella Della Porta, calls for papers addressing the recent global wave of student protests for a two-days conference to bel held in Florence, at the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS), on 15-16 November 2017.

Publications

Monograph - 2018

Social Movements and Civil War : When Protests for Democratization Fail

Donatella della Porta, Teije Hidde Donker , Bogumila Hall , Emin Poljarevic
This book investigates the origins of civil wars which emerge from failed attempts at democratization. The main aim of this volume is to develop a theoretical explanation of the conditions under which and the mechanisms through which social movements' struggles for democracy ends up in civil war.

Journal Article - 2017

Successful student activism in contemporary Italian universities

Lorenzo Cini
This article assesses the strategies that the Italian student activists adopted in order to influence the revision process of the governance structure of their universities in 2011