Programme

(T016)
Technoscience and Transformation of the State
Location 117a
Date and Start Time 01 September, 2016 at 16:00
Sessions 1

Convenors

  • Sulfikar Amir (Nanyang Technological University) email
  • David Galbreath (University of Bath) email

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Short Abstract

This track sets out to examine how technoscience has allowed many developments that are changing the pattern of social relations and political governance. We look at this transformation in spatial politics to examine the impact of technoscience on the state.

Long Abstract

This track sets out to examine how new emerging technologies, primarily information and telecommunication technology (ICTs), are transforming the spatial dimensions of state governance. By space, we have traditionally understood to mean the geographical limits of state power, as seen in the Westphalian concept of national sovereignty or in the Weberian notions of the bureaucratic state. Both national sovereignty and the bureaucratic state suggests the limits of power or, more precisely, bounded spatial politics. Yet, technoscience has traditionally been used both to reinforce boundaries and to violate them, such as roads, rail, flight, credit, and many other developments. The convergence of technologies and science has allowed many developments that are changing the pattern of social relations, such as the internet, social media, computer learning and data collection and analysis. We look at this transformation in spatial politics by looking at the impact of four areas. These are big data, social media, surveillance and economic atomisation. Big data has become a major feature of government and commercial life. Social media has made the world appear smaller as it broadcasts experiences across the world, not even limited by language as computer translators become more ubiquitous. Surveillance in all its forms is not new but the prospect for ICT to enhance and exploit surveillance is greater than ever before. Finally, economic atomization refers to the ability for individuals to make economic decisions independent of geographic location. The track seeks to combine different epistemic approaches in STS to speak to contemporary governance questions.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Will the smart city challenge how governments do policy making?

Author: David Galbreath (University of Bath)  email

Short Abstract

This paper looks at how the notion of the 'smart city' has the potential to alter how governments do policy-making on the basis of the complexity and data management that governments will need control if it is aiming at optimisation.

Long Abstract

We under stand 'smart cities' as connected cities. The project sets out to examine how Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is transforming the spatial dimensions of the politics of the state. By space, we have traditionally understood this to mean the geographical limits of state power, as seen in the Westphalian concept of national sovereignty or in the Weberian notions of the bureaucratic state. Both national sovereignty and the bureaucratic state suggests the limits of power or, more precisely, bounded spatial politics. This bounded spatial politics is seen by border, boundaries, sometimes markets or logistics. Yet, technology, or more precisely techno-science (the technological and social context of science), has traditionally been used both to reinforce boundaries and to violate them, such as roads, rail, flight, credit, and many other developments. Yet, the converge of technologies and science that has allowed many developments that are changing the pattern of social relations, such as the internet, social media, computer learning and data collection and analysis.

Targeted therapies, genomic and the challenge of their costs for Welfare State

Author: Pierre-André Juven (IFRIS - Institut Francilien Recherche Innovation Société)  email

Short Abstract

Medical innovations in cancer constitute a challenge for the future of the Welfare States. This communication explores how health innovations imply new political economy of cancer and how the British State try to render accessible drugs that are extremely expensives.

Long Abstract

Health care systems in Western countries are nowadays confronted with multiple difficulties that put into question their solvability and their durability. One of these challenges is their capacity to provide effective and efficient care to the population despite the crisis of public finances and the evolution of health problems. It is especially the case for cancer care. Since the middle of the 2000's a new kind of medicine has been developed: the use of targeted therapies. It consists in specific molecules given to the patient in association with more classical chemotherapy. Two critics are formulated by now: these drugs have uncertain effects (for the most sceptical actors it has minimal effect on the patient survival) and their "cost" is extremely high. Nevertheless public authorities can today hardly refuse the access to the market to these drugs for two reasons: the week effect of theses treatment does not mean that any improvement can be achieved in the future; the cost of drugs appears not as a robust argument for denying the access for the patients. The communication explores the controversies about the impact of the genomic and targeted therapies in cancer care on the consistency and the future of Welfare State in United-Kingdom.

Digital Empire and the Politics of Online Solidarity Activism

Author: Meryem Kamil (University of Michigan)  email

Short Abstract

This paper centers the materiality of ICT in Gaza and the aesthetics of images circulated from Gaza to the Global North during the 2014 Gaza Massacre to think through levels of mediation (actor, device, network, and platform) regarding online activism.

Long Abstract

This paper aims to bring together digital studies and postcolonial studies in an inquiry of Palestinian information and communication technologies. Centering images of the 2014 Gaza Massacre or Operation Protective Edge, this paper parses through debates within pro-Palestine and Palestinian diaspora debates regarding ethical solidarity activism-- particularly whether circulating images of death on Facebook and Tumblr is an effective strategy of awareness-building-- within the context of Israeli occupation and cyber-colonialism, as coined by Helga Tawil-Souri and Miriyam Aouragh. Interrogating both the message and the medium in the spirit of Marshall McLuhan reorients debates regarding the dissemination of death and devastation online to think through ICT and new media as products of multiple colonialisms and sites where power and ideology are contested. This paper aims to theorize strategies of pro-Palestine activism beyond the assertion of Palestinian humanity inserted into a discourse network complicit in colonialism by employing an aesthetic analysis of the materiality of the digital.

Internet Platform Governance and Democracy

Author: Ingrid Schneider (University of Hamburg)  email

Short Abstract

The paper highlights the interaction between governance by and of internet platforms. It explores the current state of the "Californian Ideology" (Barbrook/Cameron 1995; Turner 2006) and how it has become materialised in technical infrastructures, products, and economic mechanisms (Morozov 2015).

Long Abstract

Most of the most influential internet technology platform companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple are located in the Silicon Valley. Here, a special "Californian Ideology" is prevalent, characterised in an canonic article by Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron (1996) as a "contradictory mix of technological determinism and libertarian individualism" also termed as "dotcom neoliberalism". How does this belief and value system translate to the rest of the world? And how is it being diffused - by the technical infrastructures, the products themselves, by economic powers, or by other mechanisms?

The presentation will inquire the economic and cultural powers of these information infrastructure companies and ask about their implications for politics and democracy in Europe. The underlying thesis is that institutional policy-making and the state are sidelined by supposed "direct" interactions with citizens. Citizens are addressed as customers, and contract law is used to make them accept the terms and conditions of services. Network effects, lock-in, economies of scale and other mechanisms may increase private power at the expense of public regulation. Countercultural ideas of direct democracy, transparency and sharing legitimize services and are transformed into customer relationships (Morozov 2015; Schneier 2015; Kitchin 2014; Lyon 2014.).

This track is closed to new paper proposals.