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Accepted paper:

Automating morality: Chinese environmental governance in the digital age

Author:

Charlotte Bruckermann (University of Bergen, Norway)

Paper short abstract:

Turning to policies for apportioning green credits in China, this paper reveals how political accountability and environmental responsibility become recalibrated in moral terms and redistributed among citizens and corporations for the digital age.

Paper long abstract:

To overcome a prolonged perception of 'moral crisis' following China's integration into global capitalism, the communist party has promised to re-establish morality, credibility, and trust based on a new 'socialist value system.' Chinese policies that quantify and influence citizen and corporate behavior aim to safeguard accountability and transparency in the digital age, most notoriously through the emerging 'social credit system.' If Foucauldian 'biopower' was built on the rise of statistics, these experiments rely on a new form of 'infopower' (Koopman 2014) that individuates, aggregates and automates administration through digitalized metrics and big data. Unlike the reliance on the abstractions of auditing and consulting in neoliberal governance, Chinese policies bring together Marxist-Leninist emphasis on the mass line with cybernetic dreams of autonomous and automated digital governance. Perfecting a system of social management by which society governs itself coalesces in ideals of creating a predictive and responsive digitalized system of administration that avoids conflict before it even arises. Turning to green credits, particularly through the metric of carbon, this paper reveals how political accountability and environmental responsibility become recalibrated in moral terms and redistributed among citizens and corporations.

panel P103
The rise of technomoral governance: anthropological insights into value-laden scales of evidence