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Democratizing Digital Tech? Democratic Prospects and Pitfalls in the Digital Age

Fri, September 16, 8:00 to 9:30am, TBA

Session Submission Type: Full Paper Panel

Session Description

This panel explores the prospects for democratic governance in the digital age by drawing on political theory to both critique our current realities and formulate possible alternative futures. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the extent of as well as heightened our reliance on digital technology in the conduct of our professional and personal lives. Its increasing presence continues to raise pressing questions about governance, democracy, and privacy. Why does increased connectivity in the digital age coincide with increased experiences of social and psychological isolation? What expectations of privacy can we have when digital tracking and data mining are embedded in the profit models of tech companies? And what would alternative democratic digital infrastructures look like?

The disruption to daily routines and ways of being produced by the pandemic has also provided a kind of upheaval that may enable us to envision new normative horizons for addressing these longstanding and increasingly apparent questions and challenges. Political theory is well situated to help us interrogate these challenges; not just by emphasizing their roots in longstanding political problems, but also by assisting us in formulating new proposals in an instructive and normatively nuanced way. In this spirit, the papers on this panel draw from the work of a wide range of political philosophers and theorists to propose innovative models for reconceptualizing the structure, role, and purpose of digital technology - so that it becomes an empowering and connective, rather than isolating and oppressive, force in our lives.

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