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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

10/11/2017

Call for Application Now Open: Summer School on Youth Political Participation in Times of Inequalities

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We are pleased to announce that the call for applications is now open for the Summer School on Youth Political Participation in Times of Inequalities, sponsored by the Reinventing Democracy in Europe: Youth Doing Politics in Times of Increasing Inequalities project (EURYKA) and the Centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS).

26/10/2017

Now Online! The plenary session (Un)making Europe of the 13th ESA Conference

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During the plenary session, Donatella della Porta and Yanis Varoufakis spoke about the future of Europe and the social consequences of neoliberal economies.

06/10/2017

Open Democracy Post - "The streets will always be ours" - Catalonia, a referendum from below

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Although some still conceive of the referendum as launched by a pro-independence vanguard, the elite story falls short of explaining the resilient participation of a large part of Catalan civil society. This post at Open Democracy addresses this issue from a different angle.

Publications

Journal Article - 2017

The Refugee Crisis as a Crisis of Legitimacy

Pietro Castelli Gattinara
The paper suggests that the refugee crisis is best understood in relation to other ongoing crises in the EU, and that the way it is handled will have significant consequences for future action, shaping the way European societies cope with forthcoming crises and transforming the relationship between states and citizens. Accordingly, it argues that the permanent state of emergency characterising governmental responses so far does not bode well for the future of liberal democracy in Europe.

Journal Article - 2017

The Myth of Apolitical Volunteering for Refugees: German Welcome Culture and a New Dispositif of Helping

Larissa Fleischmann and Elias Steinhilper
During the so-called “refugee crisis”, the notion of an unparalleled German hospitality toward asylum seekers circulated within the (inter)national public sphere, often encapsulated by the blurry buzzword “Welcome Culture”. In this article, we scrutinize these developments and suggest that the image of the so-called “crisis” has activated an unprecedented number of German citizens to engage in practices of “apolitical” helping. However, we aim to unmask forms of “apolitical” volunteering for refugees as a powerful myth: the new dispositif of helping comes with ambivalent and contradictory effects that range from forms of antipolitics to transformative political possibilities within the European border regime.