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Political Science in Europe

Politics and Technology: Technological Transformations in Society

Section Number
Section Chair
Cornelia Fraune
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Section Co-Chair
Ulrich Hilpert
Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena

The aim of the Section is to discuss how technological transformations, like digitalization or energy system transition, both shape and are shaped by social relations. Recent research is mainly focused on technical aspects of innovations. Social sciences’ expertise is reduced to evaluate peoples’ opinions and to prevent social resistance by creating participatory processes. But social sciences’ research contribution to technological transformations is more complex and provides far more insights. Prima facie, technological innovations affect mainly the productive sphere. Therefore, the productive sphere and its intersections with other social sectors seems to be an appropriate starting point for discussing social sciences’ contributions to technological innovation. From social sciences’ point of view, mainstream macroeconomics falls short in analyzing the role of the government and households within national production since business is not the only source of output. Governments provide public services and regulation and households produce labor services, including physical, technical and social capacities. Moreover, all three sectors consume the output of each other. Therefore, the Panels of the Section focus on three sectors (government, business, and households) and their mutual interdependencies through markets, rights and values.

Proposed Panels
Panel: Perspectives on Energy Transformations
Chair: Martin Fritz (University of Bonn, Germany)
Discussant: Cornelia Fraune (University of Siegen, Germany)

Energy transformations are highly complex processes that can be analyzed from very different social sciences’ perspectives, e.g. International Relations, Governance, Political Economy, etc. Each paper will discuss these processes from a different perspective. Therefore, the Panel will explore the range of social sciences’ contribution to energy transformation research. Moreover, the analytical scope and limitations of each perspective will be reflected.

Panel: Politics of Energy Transformations
Chairs: Cornelia Fraune (University of Siegen, Germany)/Michèle Knodt (Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany)
Discussants: Jörg Kemmerzell (TU Darmstadt, Germany)/Stephan Schmidt (University of Basel, Switzerland)

Energy systems refer not only to societal resource endowment and technological skills, but also to the nexus of production and living in a society. International, national, regional and local levels are involved in the governance of energy supply. Moreover, energy supply produces externalities like both environmental and social problems that are not only national but also transnational in nature. In dependence on the technology in question, different governance units at diverse scales are appropriate and/or the coordination of one or more levels of governance is needed in order to solve governance challenges. The Panel invites Papers that deal with these kinds of coordination challenges and that analyze challenges and opportunities for energy system transformations.

Panel: Data Revolution: Politics and Methods
Chair: Simon Hegelich (TU München, Germany)
Discussant: Andreas Blaette, (University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany)

More and more issues political scientists have to deal with are connected to the digitalization of modern life. Social networks are a new forum for political debates, cyberwarfare is an increasing threat, and privacy is challenged by new forms of surveillance, to name some of the most obvious examples. At the core of this transformation lies the technological ability to treat more and more information as data: the digital traces of people’s interaction with computers and mobile devices are fed into computational systems trying to make sense out of it. To be able to analyze these developments has become a key question for political science nowadays. But the world of big data is not very common to political science and methods from computer science which are essential to deal with these new issues are not within the toolbox of traditional research. On the other hand, computational methods per se do not guarantee an understanding of the political dimension of the data revolution. The Panel therefore encourages any Paper that deals with political dimensions of data-driven topics or that presents methods that are helpful for political data scientists

Panel List

Code Title Details
P080Data Revolution: Politics and Methods View Panel Details
P300Perspectives on Energy Transformations View Panel Details
P326Politics of Energy Transformations View Panel Details
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