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Adjusting to the digital: societal outcomes and consequences

Mansell, Robin ORCID: 0000-0003-3950-3468 (2021) Adjusting to the digital: societal outcomes and consequences. Research Policy, 50 (9). ISSN 0048-7333

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.respol.2021.104296


Innovation in digital technologies is central to contemporary debates about the need for policy and regulatory adjustment in response to the consequences of the centrality of these technologies in contemporary societies. Christopher Freeman's research in relation to changes in techno-economic paradigm and, specifically, in relation to the information and communication technology (ICT) paradigm, cautioned that assessments of these changes needed to go beyond market dynamics to examine social, cultural and political issues. In this paper several predominant themes in his work are foregrounded – the ambiguity of changes within the ICT paradigm; the role of guiding principles in influencing expectations about societal outcomes; and the importance of political factors in shaping the consequences of technological innovation. These three themes are then deployed in a discussion of recent innovations – two technical (5G mobile networks and artificial intelligence-as-a-service) and one institutional (proposals for changes in the international taxation regime in response to claims that the existing regime is inappropriate in the face of global online service provision). In each instance, the aim is to illustrate how following Freeman by giving attention to the themes operates as an important guide to analysis of adjustments to novel deployments of digital technology. The conclusion emphasizes the value of Freeman's contributions to shaping research agendas that acknowledge the need to humanize technology, to consider alternatives to taken-for-granted principles and practices, and to take into account the role of political power in tandem with concentrated economic power.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 Elsevier B.V
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
JEL classification: H - Public Economics > H0 - General > H00 - General
P - Economic Systems > P1 - Capitalist Systems > P16 - Political Economy
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2021 08:30
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2022 19:03

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