Working group 7: Social and ecological responsibility of digital technology

 

Chairs: Minna Vigren (minna.vigren@protonmail.com), Matti Pohjonen, Salla-Maaria Laaksonen & Mervi Pantti (University of Helsinki)

Description:

Digital technology is often considered an enabler and driver to solve major global challenges like climate change and achieving carbon-neutrality. Contrary to this thinking, in this working group, the social and environmental impacts of digital technologies and services are taken into focus. The aim is to recast and map the adverse effects of the digital age on our lives in the Global North and South. The point of embarkation is that digital services, social media platforms and the devices we use them with do not create a post-material environment where our relations would dissolve into words, bits, and flows of information. Instead, they produce an ’environmental wasteland’ of pollution, hazardous chemicals, and scrap metal. (Parikka 2015.) This raises the question of what ‘sustainable digital everyday life’ means to citizens and more broadly the Earth in different parts of the world. Furthermore, the social impacts of digital technologies from addiction to misinformation and intervening in elections have been widely discussed in public. 

The perspective we hope to take on the question of social and environmental impacts of the digital is responsibility and accountability. This engages us to consider the principles and practices demanded from institutions, corporations, and individuals to be answerable on their actions. We consider it to have a broad social significance as it comes with a promise to prevent abuse of power, misconduct, and ecological neglect. As a social relationship, this kind of responsibility and accountability means that the powerful are expected to justify and explain their decisions, be answerable for their conduct, and held responsible for their wrongdoings (Bovens, 2007).

The working group invites presentations that tackle the topic from theoretical, methodological, or empirical point of views. We invite sharing of research results, conceptual elaborations, presentations on research ideas as well as provocations.