“Social Innovation cha(lle)nging Digital Urban Governance”. Call for abstracts

STS Conference Graz 2020, “Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies”, GRAZ, AUSTRIA, May 4-6, 2020

The STS Conference Graz is the joint Annual Conference of the Science, Technology and Society Unit – Graz University of Technology, the Inter-Disciplinary Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture (IFZ) and the Institute of Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society (IAS-STS)  Researchers in the areas of science, technology and society studies as well as sustainability studies are invited to submit an abstract for presentation to the following session “Social Innovation cha(lle)nging Digital Urban Governance”.

The “digital turn” produced new spaces for action and areas of intervention for social innovation practices, by giving rise to a multiplicity of initiatives in which digital social innovators and communities exploit the potential of ICTs to advance creative solutions to social problems and collective needs. In so doing, they advance pathbreaking forms of collective agency that mushrooms and infiltrates social organizations and (government, research and business) institutions; and produce transactive forms of governance characterised by continuous restructuration of power and responsibility relationships between multiple public, private and hybrid actors. Their agency is principally exerted in urban ecosystems, whose relative compactness, combined with a high level of offline and online connectivity, population density, potentially exponential creative contamination, and the tendency towards a progressive decentralization of global governance towards local – albeit interconnected- initiatives, offer ideal conditions in terms of practicality, social acceptability and effectiveness of digital social innovation initiatives.The session invites critical contributes exploring the impact of digitally-enabled social innovations initiatives for digital urban governance.
At the same time these initiatives, although strongly rooted in urban contexts brings about a number of criticalities, because while favoring the overcoming of (social, cultural, geographical) boundaries, also hide the risk of hybrid confinement (e.g. monopolistic control, polarization of opinions, emergence of filter bubbles, digital dependence). Therefore, stepping beyond the dichotomy between the technology optimism of smart innovation and the radical perspective of the “wisdom of the crowd” discontents, contributes are invited to discuss:
(a) Epistemological challenges, e.g. how can digital social innovation be interpreted in the traditional model of knowledge-production and policy-making; how is it blurring the boundaries between knowledge, science and business; what the status of innovator communities is?
(b) Socio-political challenges, e.g. how is social innovation agency turning traditional multi-stakeholders’ model into a distributed and transactional governance model; how is it reshaping the traditional forms of citizen agency, participation and entrepreneurship; how is social empowerment created, contested and deployed?
(c) Management challenges, e.g. how does digital innovation deal with the controversial shortcomings of a city planned, managed and controlled by highly integrated systems of sentient and interactive technologies; how are critical issues of institutional co-optation, digital exclusions and cyber-segmentation, efficiency and effectiveness addressed; how does innovators community interact with local, national and macro-regional institutions, academics and research institutions, civil society, corporativist organization and intermediate bodies and business?
Contributes exploring further challenges will be also considered as far as they revolve around the exploration of how are social brokers pathbreaking the way for tackling with social challenges via innovative governance processes in the urban context. Chair: Chiara Certomà (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies). For submitting your abstract, please use the online form. Submission Deadline:  January 20, 2020. Notification of Abstracts acceptance: February 2020. Deadline for double blind reviewed full papers: June 5, 2020. The proceedings will be available as open access e-book with an individual DOI number.


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