The Technologisation of the Social: A Political Anthropology of the Digital Machine

London, UK: Routledge (2021)
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In an era of digital revolution, artificial intelligence, big data and augmented reality, technology has shifted from being a tool of communication to a primary medium of experience and sociality. Some of the most basic human capacities are increasingly being outsourced to machines and we increasingly experience and interpret the world through digital interfaces, with machines becoming ever more ‘social’ beings. Social interaction and human perception are being reshaped in unprecedented ways. This book explores this technologisation of the social and the attendant penetration of permanent liminality into those aspects of the lifeworld where individuals had previously sought some kind of stability and meaning. Through a historical and anthropological examination of this phenomenon, it problematises the underlying logic of limitless technological expansion and our increasing inability to imagine either ourselves or our world in other than technological terms. Drawing on a variety of concepts from political anthropology, including liminality, the trickster, imitation, schismogenesis, participation, and the void, it interrogates the contemporary technological revolution in a manner that will be of interest to sociologists, social and anthropological theorists and scholars of science and technology studies with interests in the digital transformation of social life. Table of Contents Introduction: The Technologisation of the Social: A 21st-Century Megamachine? Paul O’Connor 1. Communication as Theatricalisation: Self-Presentation in the Digital Age Arpad Szakolczai 2. Parasites of the Social: Digital Disruptions of the Labour Market Tom Boland 3. Possessed by Technology: The Metastasis of Absence Agnes Horvath 4. Technologisation of the Social: Symbiosis, Parasitism, or Predation? Daniel Gati 5. J'accuse Zéro: The Technology of Zero and the Making of a Personal Void Ray Griffin 6. Digital Affordances and the Liminal Stephen Turner 7. The Smart Womb: Digital Technologies and the Maze of Trickster Politics Marius Ion Benta 8. Brave New Industry? The Dark Side of Dematerialisation and Industry 4.0 Thomas S.J. Smith 9. ‘What Have You Caught?’: Nannycams and Hidden Cameras as Normalised Surveillance of the Intimate Janos Mark Szakolczai 10. Coercive Visibility: Discipline in the Digital Public Arena Paul O’Connor Conclusion: Is There a Way Out of the Technologisation of the Social? Marius Ion Benta

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Marius Ion Benta
Romanian Academy, George Baritiu History Institute


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