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university of tampere: info - new social research: themes:
University of Tampere

2. Transformation of agency and empowerment

Increasingly intertwined social problems cannot be solved or managed without the active participation of citizens and consumers. In particular, the large-scale adoption of digital services and applications raises new questions and opportunities concerning the redistribution of power and redefinition of agency. We urgently need a better understanding of the directions where the commercial and public information systems are heading, how personal and societally strategic information is being produced and redistributed in these processes, and what roles and power relationships are being formed when individuals, groups and institutions occupy new positions in the emerging societal and cultural constellation.

Currently, social research at UTA brings together several strands of analysis (from the study of information systems to the qualitative analysis of sense-making in politics and sociology) that are crucial for understanding the transforming societal agency and human interactions. The work carried out combines analytical and descriptive as well as solution-oriented and constructive research. The specific research topics range from political agency and participation to app-economy and from professional interaction to digital distribution, design principles, use patterns, user metrics, and crowdsourcing.

The future issues related to the reconfigurations of power are only beginning to emerge. The earlier distinctions between consumers and producers as well as between official and mundane politics are blurring. The two-way digital dialectic environment empowers individuals to express thoughts and construct identities by using new applications. This increasing involvement with a socio-technical apparatus binds together actors and localities in novel ways and also embodies new power relationships.

Intimate roles, played by mobile and social media services, for instance, need to be examined from critical and constructive perspectives. A better understanding of the trade-offs and connections is crucial for people’s potential for empowerment as individuals and as members of society. At the same time, the integrated services that record and make accessible previously unrecorded aspects of human behaviour provide unique opportunities for new social research, both in the micro and macro, in the local and global scale.

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Last update: 11.8.2016 12.58 Muokkaa

University of Tampere
+358 3 355 111

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