We would like to invite abstracts for the panel Society and technology: concepts and networks of relations which will take place during the conference of the Polish Sociological Association in Szczecin in Poland, 11-14 September

  1. Deadline for the abstract submission is 20 February.

Contact persons:

  • Nawojczyk Maria, dr hab., Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza – Wydział Humanistyczny w Krakowie, maria@list.pl,
  • Lis Aleksandra, dr, Central European University w Budapeszcie, aleksandra.ola@gmail.com

Society and technology: concepts and networks of relations

It is difficult to image an analysis of contemporary societies without referring to the occurring technological changes. The problem of how technologies function in societies and the relation between them is a complex one. We propose a broad definition of technologies as various mechanisms, schemes, algorithms, devices and organizational arrangements that mediate people’s interactions. We take Bruno Latour’s definition of „technology as society made durable” as a point of departure. This definition underlines the role of technologies in stabilizing social processes and in mediating between different parts of society. This definition also redefines and dismantles the boundary between the „social” and the „technical” as being artificial. This view on the relation between technology and society has been adopted and gave fruitful results in organizational studies which examine “socio-technical infrastructures” or „socio-technical systems”, sociology of markets examining calculative socio-technical devices, social studies of environmental problems analyzing various „socio-technical arrangements/agencements”. We would like to stress that also our daily human-to-human relations are mediated through various technologies, like: law, communication technologies, or medical technologies. We have become hybrids and, at times, it seems arbitrary to say where the human agency starts and technical agency ends. It has become problematic to clearly distinguish who is the subject of various social actions: humans, technologies or socio-technical dispositions?

We propose to reflect upon the following problems: is such a broad definition of technology useful for social sciences? How does the Latourian definition of technology differ from the sociological definition of an institution? How to study various socio-technical infrastructures and how does it contribute to the development of sociology as a discipline? How to theorize the division of labour between humans and technology? What kind of technologies should occupy a special place in the contemporary sociological analysis, and why? What roles do technologies play in the social world? Do they mediate, translate, stabilize of fold the social reality? Which one of these concepts actually explains what is going on in contemporary societies and which one of them is a mere rhetoric gimmick?

We call for contributions from various fields of social research: communication, economic sociology, environmental sociology, sociology of law, sociology and anthropology of everyday life, medical sociology and anthropology, migration studies, institutional approaches, social change, sociology of arts and science. We invite papers based on original research that reflect on the contemporary approaches to the studies of technology.

With kind regards,

Aleksandra Lis

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