Universität Bonn

Abteilung für Japanologie und Koreanistik

17. November 2022

Digital Transformation in East Asia: Impacts on Economy and Society III “Digitalisation in Transformation” 9th/10th of December 2022 “Digitalisation in Transformation”

In the context of the emergence of capitalism in England, Karl POLANY (1944) argued
that the transformation of society began with the commodification of phenomena which
had not previously been commodities: human life (to labour), nature (to real estate),
exchange (to money). He outlined how the market economy became disembedded from
society and then appropriated the non-commodified parts of society. Thus, society
became subsumed into the market. The great transformation was a historical process with
the successive annexation of society into the market economy which started after the
abolition of the Speenhamland system in 1834.
While POLANY was concerned with the transformation that tilted the relationship
between society and the market economy, Max WEBER (1904/1905) had highlighted the
mechanism by which an unintended dispositional transmission of unquestioned everyday
practices such as those motivated by the Protestant ethic can become a driving force of
capitalism and provide a subliminal transformation of social individuals. Luc BOLTANSKI
and Ève CHIAPPELO (2006) also identified a hidden but at the same time intentional,
discursive instrument of capitalism that triggers a transformation in the minds of those
living in the system. According to this approach, discourses influence the
subconsciousness of social actors leading to a transformation of a society.
From the perspective of the anti-anthropocentric approach, the actor-network theory
by Bruno LATOUR (1999) and the critical posthumanism by Rosi BRAIDOTTI (2016)
scrutinise the current transformation by postulating that bipolarity between society and
nature is socially constructed. Everything is closely interconnected and could be defined
as “the vital force of life itself, Zoé” (BRAIDOTTI 2016). The backlashes from the hitherto
neglected half of society i.e., nature, women and labour are considered collateral effects
of the still ongoing lopsided modernity in our monistic universe. Thus, the transformation
to the second modernisation would take place reflexively when suppressed issues break
the boundaries of their confined realm and discharge themselves from it (BECK 1994;
GIDDENS 1994).
We are now living in a globalised world and are facing an indisputable transformation
of all levels of society from both human and natural causes. The war in Ukraine with the
resulting energy insecurity and cost-of-living crisis in many industrialised countries; the
coronavirus pandemic; the climate emergency and its effects on our natural environment
are all contributing to this transformation. However, we were warned of these
consequences at the time of the reorientation towards neo-liberalism with the demise of
Fordism in the 1980s and 1990s (BECK 1984; BECK 1994; GIDDENS 1994). The last
bastion of so-called Rhine capitalism, in Germany and Japan, the latter being in a state of
agony since the bursting of the bubble economy, both abandoned what had previously
been considered virtuous economic practices and followed the (global) trend towards
deregulation, privatisation, financialisation, i.e., the extended line of the first modernity.
Are we currently experiencing the backlash of this first modernity toward the next
great transformation? In this age of transformation, what role does and can digitalisation
play? Is digitalisation the crucial key to resolving the present and rising issues in the
transformation or just another factor of generating issues? How can we deal with the
digitalisation in this systemic transformation?

The international workshop “Digitalisation in Transformation” which is the third in
our series of presentations in respect of our research project “The Digital Transformation
in East Asia”, explores digitalisation in the process of systemic transformation in East
Asia. It is organised by the Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies, University of Bonn
and the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, University of Tübingen within the
framework of the research project "Digital Transformation and the Changing World of
Work in East Asia" which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research
(BMBF) and the Ministry of Culture and Science of the Federal State of the North Rhine-
Westphalia (MKW) as a part of the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and
the States. This project is further associated with the DFG priority programme,
“Digitalisation of the Working Worlds. Conceptualising and Capturing a Systemic
Transformation” (Prof. Dr. Sabine PFEIFFER et al.).

The workshop will be organized in a hybrid format, welcoming participants joining physically onsite at
the University of Bonn (for internal persons) as well as those joining online (for external persons)!
Attendance is free and possible for both days together, as well as just on one day. For participation,
advance registration (full name; e-mail; associated institution/ organization) via email is required:

The schedule can be downloaded here.

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