2013 Forum: Social Transformations and the Digital Age


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Social Transformations and the Digital Age

The second World Social Science Forum, Social Transformations and the Digital Age, took place in Montreal, Canada, in October 2013. It was hosted and organised by a Canadian consortium led by ISSC member, the International Political Science Association.

The role of digital technologies in nearly all aspects of life – most notably in the form of “social media” — has been a constant news focus in recent years, and it has become a major focus of social research.

As far as “social media” are concerned, popular and scholarly accounts about their participatory and transformative potential are usually enthusiastic. Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia and Wikileaks are lauded for their capacity to harness people’s creativity and knowledge, and for their potential to challenge traditional hierarchies in politics, science, and the media. It is claimed these web-based applications have facilitated political uprisings, the solution of scientific problems, and the emergence of hitherto undiscovered talents in music and the arts. Some more critical voices question the validity of such claims, pointing to the dangers of hoax, misinformation, dependency, narcissism, and the loss of privacy.

Yet digital technologies reach far beyond the current “social media” proliferation:  in the form of computers and the networks enabling them to communicate with one another they have been in use for decades, and have affected nearly all areas of society, politics, and the economy. They have changed how people think about themselves, how work is organized, how knowledge is produced, and how access to information is regulated. Education, health care, shopping, agriculture, finance, security, leisure have all been deeply affected by information and communication technologies.


For more information on the 2013 Forum see the forum website