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Stefanie Büchner, Jannis Hergesell & Jannis Kallinikos: Digital Transformation(s): On the Entanglement of Long-Term Processes and Digital Social Change. An Introduction. [Abstract]

Digitalisation oscillates between profound promises of transformation and a nebulous buzzword. The analysis of digital transformation processes leaves hardly any (analysis of) social phenomenon untouched. We argue for understanding digitalisation as a complex and heterogeneous process that cannot be rashly reduced to individual principles or uniform transformation effects. Starting from a working definition of digitalisation, we outline the challenges for social sciences research aiming to conceptualize this heterogeneity. We argue for a more differentiated and socio-historically informed analysis not only of processes of disruptive change through digitalisation, but also of continuities, modifications, and reinforcements. In view of the large number of individual case studies and to avoid one-sided generalisations, comparative analyses of different or supposedly similar digitalisation processes are central. Finally, micro-macro analysis opens up important insights into the multifaceted nature of digital transformation(s), especially in terms of breaks, frictions, and enablements of digitalisation through organising and organisations. Understanding digitalisation as a heterogeneous process does not imply multiplying observations of differences but paying attention to the complexity and embeddedness of digitalisation.

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