TRACK Digital STS Discourses


S13: The webvideo in science communication: issues and trends 

GEIPEL, Andrea (Munich Center for Technology in Society, TU Munich), Germany / STENGLER, Erik (University of West of England, Bristol), United Kingdom


After an exponential growth in users as well as producers, webvideos have become one of the standards in the way online communication takes place. Webvideos are increasingly preferred over text and image-based sources. In the case of science communication, this brings about new issues, as for example quality aspects, that need to be addressed from an STS perspective. In addition, it directly affects the relationships between science and society, replacing traditional interfaces and loosening the control of the scientific community over content and sources in a way that could undermine the trust that has been so hard to restore in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

In this session we are particularly interested in contributions that address these issues, analyse trends and discuss if and how science communication needs to be reconceptualised in the age of YouTube, Vimeo etc. Therefore, we welcome contributions addressing questions regarding the production and reception processes of science webvideos, the actors and their role as both science communicators and webvideo producers, rules of communication on online video-platforms as well as content that is communicated. How is the concept of quality to be addressed in the context of webvideos?

We are also interested in the impact of webvideos on intra-scientific communication, i.e. if and how webvideos affect science and research communication.

Finally, we also would like to explore how characteristics of science communication via webvideos influences other ways of science communication generally.

We welcome theoretical, conceptual and empirical contributions from various disciplinary and cultural backgrounds as well as perspectives from webvideo practitioners in order to get a multifaceted picture of the webvideo in science communication.

KEYWORDS: science communication, webvideo, production, plattforms


S14: Digitalized industry and social emancipation

MEYER, Uli, SCHAUPP, Simon, SEIBT, David (Technical University Munich), Germany


The digitalization of industries does not only bring about significant transformations in the organization of production, but raises critical issues of social justice in highly technologized societies at large. In this session, we invite contributions with an analytical focus on the connections between digitalized industries and social emancipation.

The idea of social emancipation through new technologies has been a recurring theme in STS scholarship. Networked, digital fabrication technologies like 3D printing were hailed as as an empowerment of grassroots level “produsers” and open source communities. Networked communication technologies, coupled with the ubiquity of private computers were seen as a material precondition for flat hierarchies. More recently, advances in medical technology sparked hopes of body modification as enabling free development of the subjects beyond the restrictions of dominant body norms.

This session aims to critically examine this emancipatory potential of the digital transformation. We welcome papers that situate industrial production in larger social contexts. From this starting point, analysis can go to different directions, including: does the digitalization of industries have emancipatory potential for (a) industrial structures themselves or (b) non-industrial contexts? Or do (c) social transformations outside of industries open up possibilities for emancipation within them?

Along those lines of inquiry, the following questions could be posed, among others: If most digital technology is produced in social contexts of domination, is this domination inscribed into them, or can they be used for emancipatory purposes as well? What does the increasing inclusion of computer-enabled organizational decentralization (e.g. Open Innovation) into capital accumulation mean for alternative forms of organizing? How do digitally enabled forms of mass customization impact body representation in the production of medical- and consumer goods? And can such technologies be appropriated by user communities to upend the ways such goods are produced?

We base these questions on a broad understanding of emancipation as the elimination or reduction of domination on different levels, such as: gender, class, ethnicity or (dis)ability. Analysis at the intersection of these categories are especially welcome. Papers presented in this the session should have an emphasis on analysis, avoiding pure description or rushed normative claims. We welcome empirical, historical, as well as theoretical analysis.

KEYWORDS: industry, digitalization, emancipation, capitalism, domination