Session 31

G4 Digitalization and Digital Transformation: Methodological Approaches, Dilemmas and Prospects

Globally, digital revolution has reshaped many aspects of human interactions and communication. In this context, digitalization has emerged as a key concept in understanding our contemporary digital culture and society. As socio-economic practices accepted digital reality as a contested space, digitalization seemed to bring along new opportunities that bank on virtual communication, negotiations, and transactions. Scholarly research confirms that COVID-19 has become “a great accelerator” of digitalization as the pandemic evolved to be the driving force and catalyst for the adoption and use of digitalization in work organization and labor force (Amankwah-Amoah, Khan, Wood, and Knight, 2021). Digitalization is about the process in which our social institutions and social relationships are influenced and shaped by digital communications and media infrastructures (Brennen and Kreiss, 2016). In other words, digitalization signifies the diffusion of digital technologies in our social institutions and relationships, signalling various social changes dictated by the logic of digital communication and its media infrastructures. In some settings, digitalisation has also prompted the creation of a new urban class. Other than digital infrastructure, digital depth has been suggested as an important dimension of digitalization. Digital depth refers to “the extent to which economic activities, transactions, and policies are becoming digital, including through more online, interconnected, and automated systems” (Abdychev, et al., 2020, p. 34). The digital transformation we witness today is a logical consequence of the digital depth of societal experiences. In many countries, particularly in the Global South, digital transformation strategy has been adopted to remodel the integration and incorporation of digital technology in the economic development, business practices and improvement of delivery services. In the corporate world, digitalization has also brought new forms of organizational power, with panoptic consequences (cf. Foucault, 1991, cited in Tække, 2011, p. 446). In spite of the foregoing, digitalization as a research area has not received much scholarly attention in our contemporary society. This session invites papers that address various methodologies in the study of digitalization, digital transformation, and economic development, including but not limited to the following questions: (1) What are the common methods employed in the study of digital culture and society? (2) What are the emerging methodological approaches in the study of digital settings and exchanges? (3) What are the methodological dilemmas and prospects in the study of digitalization and digital transformation in the Global South? (4) What does conducting social research in a digital context mean? (5) To what extent and in what ways have countries in the Global South responded to the demand of digitalization and digital transformation? (6) How does digital transformation influence the economic activities and business arrangements in the Global South? (7) In what ways has digitalization contributed to the economic development in Global South? (8) Who are the current drivers and markers of digitalization? (9) How have universities and research institutions optimized on the new opportunities brought about by digitalization? (10) How does adoption of digitalization contribute to the organizational and labor force management? (11) To what extent has digital technology transformed the nature and dynamics of industrial democracy in the Global South?