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Future imaginaries in the making and governing of digital technology: Multiple, contested, commodified

Author: Mager, A., & Katzenbach, C.
Published in: New Media & Society, 23(2), 223-236
Year: 2021
Type: Academic articles
DOI: 10.1177/1461444820929321

Visions of the future are omnipresent in current debates about the digital transformation. This introductory article and the full special issue are concerned with the function, power, and performativity of future visions and how they relate to the making and governing of digital technology. Revisiting existing concepts, we particularly discuss and advance the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries. In difference to ephemeral visions and partisan ideas, imaginaries are collectively held and institutionally stabilized. Nonetheless, we hold that they are multiple, contested, and commodified rather than monolithic, linear visions of future trajectories enacted by state actors. Introducing and summarizing the articles of the special issue, we conclude that imaginaries are increasingly dominated by technology companies that not only take over the imaginative power of shaping future society, but also partly absorb public institutions’ ability to govern these very futures with their rhetoric, technologies, and business models.

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Connected HIIG researchers

Astrid Mager, Dr.

Former Visiting Researcher: The evolving digital society

Christian Katzenbach, Prof. Dr.

Associated researcher: The evolving digital society

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