Futures of Digital Industry: Techno-Managerial or Techno-Political Utopia?

Philipp Frey, Simon Schaupp

Abstract


This article examines the political function of state-sponsored proclamations
of future technological developments with regard to the German example
of ‘Industrie 4.0’. Building on a comparison of two classical texts of
the literary genre of utopianism, Bacon’s Nova Atlantis and Morus’ Utopia,
the article argues that the future visions of ‘Industrie 4.0’ can be understood
as a techno-political utopia. As such, it is a discursive strategy
consisting of three elements: social mobilization for national competitiveness
(nationalism) towards a profitable industry with “men at the center”
(solutionism) and without industrial conflicts (corporatism). These elements
limit an open political discussion on desirable digital futures. The
article concludes by demonstrating how critical social sciences could contribute
to open the discourse from a mere techno-managerial towards a
techno-political utopia.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.6094/behemoth.2020.13.1.1039