481.1 Communicating power: Technological innovation and social change in the past, present and futures

Friday, August 3, 2012: 10:45 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
James DATOR , University of Hawaii at Manoa
John SWEENEY , University of Hawaii at Manoa
Aubrey YEE , University of Hawaii at Manoa
This project examines how communication technologies have contributed to changes in the structure of societies, and hence to the distribution of political power, in the past, and at present, and in four alternative futures. Our research moves from the advent of writing on oral societies through the utlization of new media in various contemporary social movements with an eye towards articulating the role of technology as a driver of social change across historical contexts. We elucidate the means by which communication and networking technologies perpetuate and/or disrupt the normative power relations within various socio-cultural contexts. We outline a working theory of power that draws on a multidisciplinary corpus with sensitivity to the variety of socio-cultural conceptions of power and the means by which social relations can and might transform systems of governance. While the historical and theoretical context for our work is a crucial part of our research, the unique contribution our project offers from a sociological perspective stems from the creation of four plausible alternative future(s) scenarios using Futures Studies' techniques, particularly the Manoa School scenario modeling method, as a lens to reflect upon issues within the present in addition to those that can and might surface in the futures of democracy as well as other forms of governance. Using four urban centers (Honolulu, Melbourne, Los Angeles, and Dhubai) as sites of engagement for four alternative futures (growth, disciplined, collapse, and transform), our project offers an engaged point of entry from which to examine the potentialities of climate change, economic inequality, and numerous other socio-political issues that (have and) will come to define life in the 21st century. Our fundamental research aim, then, is to pluralize the future as a means to stimulate discourse on the preferred futures of power relations.