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Ideas, Politics, and Technological Change. Essays on the Comparative Political Economy of Digital Capitalism

Dates:
  • Fri 29 Jan 2021 10.00 - 12.00
  Add to Calendar 2021-01-29 10:00 2021-01-29 12:00 Europe/Paris Ideas, Politics, and Technological Change. Essays on the Comparative Political Economy of Digital Capitalism

Digitalization – the process by which more and more of what we think, say, and do becomes

mediated by digital technologies – has a commodifying and a disruptive thrust. It is

commodifying to the extent that it undermines decommodifying institutions (e.g. labor regulations)

and expands the reach of markets (e.g., the commodification of human attention).

And it is disruptive to the extent that it radically alters the requirements for success on the

individual-, firm-, and national level (e.g. by making certain skills or products obsolete). This

double dynamic confronts societies with a number of challenges to which they can – and do

– respond in different ways.

To explain this variation, this thesis advances – and empirically assesses – two central

arguments. First, it argues that the variegated trajectories of digitalization cannot be understood

without taking the politics of digital policymaking seriously. In other words, the

course and character of digitalization are not preordained by digital technologies themselves.

Rather, digitalization is a political and politically contested process for which the forging

(and dismantling) of coalitions is decisive. Second, it argues that ideational factors – values,

frames, narratives – play an important role in the politics of digitalization. The uncertainty

that surrounds digitalization opens up space for competing interpretations of what digitalization

is and what it will bring. This allows ideas to shape actors’ perceptions and conceptions,

and it incentivizes actors to use ideas to make their interpretations count.

The five papers that make up this dissertation tackle this larger problematique from

different angles. What unites them is an emphasis on the importance of politics for digitalization

and on the importance of ideas for the politics of digitalization. Methodologically,

they use a variety of both quantitative and qualitative approaches to tease out when and how

ideas matter for the coalitional politics of digital policymaking, and how ideational factors

interact with structural and institutional ones.

Outside EUI premises - Via Zoom DD/MM/YYYY
  Outside EUI premises - Via Zoom

Digitalization – the process by which more and more of what we think, say, and do becomes

mediated by digital technologies – has a commodifying and a disruptive thrust. It is

commodifying to the extent that it undermines decommodifying institutions (e.g. labor regulations)

and expands the reach of markets (e.g., the commodification of human attention).

And it is disruptive to the extent that it radically alters the requirements for success on the

individual-, firm-, and national level (e.g. by making certain skills or products obsolete). This

double dynamic confronts societies with a number of challenges to which they can – and do

– respond in different ways.

To explain this variation, this thesis advances – and empirically assesses – two central

arguments. First, it argues that the variegated trajectories of digitalization cannot be understood

without taking the politics of digital policymaking seriously. In other words, the

course and character of digitalization are not preordained by digital technologies themselves.

Rather, digitalization is a political and politically contested process for which the forging

(and dismantling) of coalitions is decisive. Second, it argues that ideational factors – values,

frames, narratives – play an important role in the politics of digitalization. The uncertainty

that surrounds digitalization opens up space for competing interpretations of what digitalization

is and what it will bring. This allows ideas to shape actors’ perceptions and conceptions,

and it incentivizes actors to use ideas to make their interpretations count.

The five papers that make up this dissertation tackle this larger problematique from

different angles. What unites them is an emphasis on the importance of politics for digitalization

and on the importance of ideas for the politics of digitalization. Methodologically,

they use a variety of both quantitative and qualitative approaches to tease out when and how

ideas matter for the coalitional politics of digital policymaking, and how ideational factors

interact with structural and institutional ones.


Location:
Outside EUI premises - Via Zoom

Affiliation:
Department of Political and Social Sciences

Type:
Thesis defence

Examiner:
Professor of Public Policy Anke Hassel (Hertie School)
Andrea Herrmann (Utrecht University)

Supervisor:
Prof. Dorothee Bohle (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences)

Defendant:
Timo Seidl (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences)

Contact:
Jennifer Rose Dari (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences) - Send a mail

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