Call for Abstracts: “The politics of algorithmic governance. Data subjects and social ordering in the digital age” (18th Annual STS Conference in Graz, 6.-7. Mai 2019)

Call for Abstracts für die Session „The politics of algorithmic governance. Data subjects and social ordering in the digital age“ auf der Annual STS Conference 2019 in Graz. Deadline für die Einreichung der Abstracts ist der 21.01.2019 um 16 Uhr. Die Zusagen erfolgen im Februar 2019. Für weitere Informationen und für die Einreichung des Abstracts siehe

A key aspect of the ongoing digital transformation of society is the increasing datafication and quantification of almost all aspects of life. This realm of “data doubles” gives rise to new modes of producing and validating knowledge and of establishing epistemic and thus political authority, enabled by artificially intelligent computer systems and machines learning from big datasets. As a consequence, we are witnessing the emergence of new forms of social coordination, steering and control that are unfolding on the individual level (as in the quantified self movement), on the organizational level (as in people analytics) as well as on the societal level (as in predictive policing and citizen scores). While technology enthusiasts interpret these trends as an opportunity for more reactive, more integrated and less bureaucratic forms of regulation that will ultimately benefit everyone (O’Reilly 2013), critics warn that humans are reduced to passive data providers in a new, depoliticized “surveillance capitalism” (Morozov 2014, Zuboff 2018). As the fusion of digital technology and institutions of public and private governance proceeds, gaining a deeper understanding of these ambivalences is one of the pressing academic and practical issues of our time (Yeung 2017).

During this session we want to continue the conversation about the possible contributions of Science, Technology and Society Studies to this set of questions, debating both concrete empirical cases and broader theoretical considerations. We invite innovative papers from all relevant areas that address issues including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Which new forms of algorithmic governance do we observe?
  • How do they relate to and interact with existing forms of social ordering and what sets them apart?
  • Do we witness the emergence of new forms of subjectivities and identities?
  • In what ways do algorithmic systems foster or inhibit individuals’ conduct of everyday life, and how are they integrated into daily routines?
  • Do we witness the rise of new types of socio-technical networks and assemblages?
  • When do the new infrastructures of algorithmic governance fail and which vulnerabilities are responsible for the failures?
  • In what ways do individuals and groups apply, cope with, adapt to, subvert or re-purpose systems of algorithmic governance?
  • How can we think about these changes in ways that take seriously both the material specificity and the social logics of these new technologies?
  • What are the socio-technical imaginaries that give rise to the various forms of algorithmic governance?
  • What is the relationship between data, algorithms and agency, and what do these forms of algorithmic governance imply for individual and collective self-determination?
  • What are the conditions for the legitimacy of algorithmic governance in the 21st century?
  • How can algorithmic governance itself be governed?