Disruptive Technologies, Social Transformation and the Sociological Imagination

William Housley
Séminaire scientifique de l'OSC - 12 mai 2017
  • In the Digital Age - ohadby (CC BY-NC-ND)In the Digital Age - ohadby (CC BY-NC-ND)

Séminaire scientifique de l'OSC 2016-2017

98, rue de l'Université 75007 Paris - salle Annick Percheron

vendredi 12 mars 2017 de 11h30 à 13h

Disruptive Technologies, Social Transformation and the Sociological Imagination

I outline a conceptual framework for the sociological study of ‘disruptive technologies’ in the digital age. My starting point begins with a sociological framing of these phenomena through the mobilization of classic sociological questions; namely how is social organisation possible? why do societies change over time? and what type(s) of identity are promoted in a given social form?

‘Disruptive’ technologies include Social Media, Big Data, Robotics and new forms of Additive Manufacture.

This presentation moves to respecify these technological developments within the context of the emerging contours of digital society (Edwards et al 2013, Housley et al, 2014, Housley, 2015). In doing so sociology is brought to the fore as an explanatory apparatus that operationalises theory, method and data in ways that account for the re-ordering of social relations in the digital age. Furthermore, matters relating to method and new forms of data, automation and predictive analytics are attended to as routine features of the digital imaginary where ‘disruptive technologies’ are understood as data generative, algorithmic, networked, distributed and organizing socio-technical assemblages. These discursive and material assemblages are ‘motile’ and are underpinned by an array of digital data imaginaries that envision new forms of relating, governing, working and being in a re-ordered and digitally colonised institutional landscape within which digital crowds and mass are being re-materialized. As a consequence disruptive technologies are reconsidered as social and cultural forces in their own right.

William Housley
Professor William Housley
Chair in Sociology, Cardiff University
Vincent Wright Chair, Sciences Po, 2016-2017.


Accès sur inscription : marie.ferrazzini(at)sciencespo.fr