Project

Is it really about Industry 4.0.?

Goal: Changes in the broad, ill-defined area of socio-economic and industrial development – commonly linked to catchwords as ‘industry 4.0’, ‘big-data-revolution’ or more specifically ‘Uberisation’ – are of multiple interest as they pose questions concerned with foundations of the entire social fabric. The three main areas of contemporary studies can be presented by the following lead questions:
• What is actually happening and how can we gain a comprehensive picture of the changes?
• How can we re-establish and maintain the status quo ante of the traditional Worlds of Welfare Capitalism?
• How can we utilise the changes in order to secure continued growth and obtain a trickle-down effect for a general improvement of living conditions?
Each of these approaches has a very specific and tightly defined focus from where it departs (e.g. political institutionalism and a related legal understanding of social security and responsibility, economics and its concern with generating profit, technological conditions of value generation) which determines the direction of defining challenges and also of searching for an answer.
I suggest the need for a fourth way that is necessary in research, highlighting the conditions and the objectives pushed towards a system that goes beyond a linear extrapolation of current trends without changing the baseline on which it rests. Focussing on five main tensions, namely the overproduction of goods and the turn of goods into ‘bads’; societal abundance versus inequality of access; abundance of knowledge and its misdirection towards skills; the individualisation of problems and their emergence as societal threat and the complexity of government and the limited scope of governance, it will be possible to elaborate an understanding of societal development and required politics and policies that go beyond particularist approaches, allowing the elaboration of a pathway towards sustainable socio-economic development.
Theoretical and methodological points of reference are taken from four areas:
First the theory of social quality which allows an understanding of the social that is based in focussing on the production and reproduction of everyday’s life. As meta-theory it helps to maintain such a localist focus and provide at the same time a meaningful perspective for tracing global developments, acknowledging their specificity.
Second the theory of regulation as developed in French political economy, dealing with accumulation regimes and modes of regulation, is proposed in a widened understanding: first it includes two further distinct aspects, namely living regime and mode of life; second, instead of maintaining the limited view on capitalist societies – namely the capitalist form of accumulation – it is suggested to open the concept towards an understanding that is not only concerned with profit-oriented processes within a utilitarian system but also open to generating social values in a collective system.
Third, any such approach can only be meaningful if it refers to a rights-based perspective on social security – however, here another addition is proposed, namely one that highlights the pre-juridical, normative conditions. As such we are concerned with a combined approach to human-right law and constitutional law.
Fourth, the latter reference – to constitutional law – highlights the inclusion of a strong emphasis of social practice.
Some preliminary studies on different aspects had been already taken up in previous own work. Detailing the work that had been undertaken so far and extending it by drawing it together it will aim on presenting a ‘new social contract’ as point of reference of analysis of current developments and as outline for developing directions for the future.

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Project log

Peter Herrmann
added a research item
These are some considerations and reflections for a workshop ‘digitization, artificial intelligence and society, organised by the European Academy of Science and Arts, specifically geared to the economy and law of every day's life. These are only some provisional key thoughts and topics that come to mind. These are important issues, any discussion about digitisation and artificial intelligence must reflect upon, analysing a wider context and looking from here at the opportunities, but as well the restrictedness, restrictions and dangers.
Peter Herrmann
added a research item
Three shortcomings can be made out as major threats for a constructive debate: •focusing debates on issues that take the current conditions as ultimate socioeconomic formation • taking a regional perspective that is suitable to evoke a confrontational and/or competitive perspective • the often-forgotten question of the cui bono, or what for? From here, some proposals are made to set up a working group that investigates the ambiguities at stake.
Peter Herrmann
added a research item
Digitisation is widely-and justifiably criticised-for its detrimental impact on social developments (securitisation of employment and social insurances), commonly understood as point of reference for heterodox policies. However, too often two shortcomings are underlying this view: (a) the confusion of the technical dimension of digitisation and its use as definiendum of business models and (b) the assumption of the validity of a socioeconomic normal that actually never really existed. In the following the main argument is developed along the line that a widely underdeveloped perspective on the process of capitalism is the acknowledgement of its socialising character-leaving aside its appearance and isolating the analysis on individual capitals. While this is in very broad terms accepted (as matter of the antagonistic relationship between social character of production and the private appropriation of its results), it is not sufficiently elaborated if and to which extent this private appropriation is in actual fact a matter of violence. Leaving the ultimate answer aside, it is worthwhile to consider that from both, the socioeconomic angle as well as from the regulatory side we are witnessing a kind of natural push towards a more radical process of socialisation, going hand in hand with processes of digitisation.
Peter Herrmann
added an update
Peter Herrmann
added a research item
Discussing increasing populism and right-wing political movements and social law together is commonly – and without any doubt importantly – dealing with issues of social legislation, employability and emphasising the importance of ‘honesty and reliability’ from the political side. And while globalisation is not condemned, it is at least in tendency suggested to be a centre piece of the present quarrels; migration, low-wage policies, capital-flight and tax competition are then highlighted as major issues. The present contribution aims on taking a wider approach, arguing that one of the major problems is the aggravation of a secular process that may be called – alluding to Karl Polanyi’s work - disembedding of law.
Peter Herrmann
added a research item
The presentation, made on the 20th of June at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich, focuses on property and competition as core issues, emphasising that both have to be used in a substantiated way that starts from a perspective of praxis. This means to least that notions “corporate social responsibility” are critically rebuked, insisting on cooperative social responsibility as pathway that needs to be developed. background material for the presentation, recording at https://youtu.be/KIoMQBDK7z4 The recording should be listened to in connection with a reference paper, that provides some definitions and references.
Peter Herrmann
added a research item
The documents gathered here had been compiled in preparation of a presentation at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, February 21st, 2018. While occasionally reference had been to documents reproduced here, most of the documents should be understood as background-information. Abstract of the presentation: WYSIWYG, the supposed revolutionary concept that once opened a new world for computer quarter-literates is not necessarily applicable if we look at the supposed recent revolution: Big Data. More likely we find the emergence of a WYSID – What You See Is Delusion. The presentation aims on contributing from the perspective of political economy to an understanding of some systemic developments that are hidden behind a blurred understanding of Big Data and Digitisation.
Peter Herrmann
added an update
There finally published version of that article is now available via
 
Peter Herrmann
added a research item
https://diefreiheitsliebe.de/politik/plattformoekonomie-flexi-ein-schritt-vorwaerts-oder-zwei-schritte-zurueck/ Plattformökonomie ist einer der Begriffe, unter denen neue Wirtschaftsentwicklungen gefasst werden . Schon in diesem kurzen Satz, der vagen Formulierung, wird deutlich, dass es bei diesem und ähnlichen Begriffen wie Digitalisierung, gig-Ökonomie, Robotisierung um ein Feld handelt, dass einerseits durch viele Facetten mit ganz spezifischen Detailaspekten gekennzeichnet ist, aber andererseits Teil eines komplexen Feldes von Änderungen ist, die das Wirtschaften und die Vergesellschaftung betreffen.
Peter Herrmann
added a research item
The present text makes reference to recent debates - on the one hand the general debates on a wider understanding of economics as they are brought forward by economists as Sen, Stiglitz but as well by philosophers as Nussbaum and others; on the other hand debates as they arose in the context of the recent manifestation of the major global economic crisis. In many ways we find quests for a moral and virtue-based reorientation, and by making this claim we find a kind of Renaissance, for instance by references to Aristotle. The present text, going back to various recent research by the author, criticises such orientations, claiming that (a) in many cases the virtues are actually depending on a manifest exclusion of certain groups, being with this highly contradictory and this socially problematic and (b) and depending on a wider understanding of the context, thus going much beyond 'values' - today's reclaims lack the understanding of such wider understanding.
Peter Herrmann
added a research item
a preparatory version, needs revision and editing: The present contribution is crosscutting, mainly theoretical and global in orientation. The aim is to make against the background of digitisation a contribution towards the changing world of the organisation of work. During the era of 'industrial capitalism' the tension between market and society was by and large processed and channelled via the firm – a conclusion we can draw from reading R.H. Coase and Karl Polanyi. However, looking at some of the current trends as they are tied up under keywords of gig-economy, sharing economy, collaborative consumption, collaborative production, on-demand-economy and the like, we are facing at least in some areas of the economy some changes which can be captured by two keywords: • de-firmisation of working frameworks • hybridisation of work or to be more precise employment] What are and what can be the answers? We see precarisation as one route, not suggested but actually taken. But it is a route based on two questionable presumptions: the first is that work has to be organised as labour and the second is that society has to and can bear and even accept major inequalities.
Peter Herrmann
added a research item
Of course, it would be scandalous to recommend forgetting the welfare state as outdated model. On the contrary, the traditional problems of industrial societies and even the traditional problems of industrialisation persist to exist—and at the same time the knowledge of both their complex “terms and conditions” and the fact that they are by no means based on natural laws and as such unavoidable make it even more urgent that we have to look for radical solutions, going much beyond proposals for technical adjustments. In other words—and with Albert Einstein—imagination is more important than knowledge.
Peter Herrmann
added an update
Peter Herrmann
added an update
Peter Herrmann
added an update
In a brief presentation at ФГБОУ ВПО “РЭУ им. Г.В. Плеханова” (Plechanov University) in Moscow I addressed issues around employment, labour market policies and the structural challenges our economies and moreover societies face today by putting them into the perspective of critical and problem-solving research (Cox). This presentation is part of the research I outlined with the question: Is it really about Industry 4.0.?
The presentation can be found ere (English and Russian translation):
 
Peter Herrmann
added 4 research items
This presentation approaches general issues of development, suggesting huge potentials for alternative development strategies. They are discussed about an understanding of eco-technological conditions – the eco referring to ecological and economic aspects of the antroponomic system.
For a long time, the Rostowian model, indentifying development with economic growth, was not fundamentally questioned. Even its critiques were more concerned with asking to leave choices of ways of development to countries, without contesting the objectives and the character of capitalist growth as such. Taking this paradigm as general reference point, the discussion today needs to be refocused, developing a specific perspective by asking if the supposed identification of development and growth is justifiable. Instead of taking up on the crucially important debate on Capabilities, Human Development and Social Quality, the focus is at present on the question if and in which way the mode of production itself changed, allowing the emergence of a new understanding of development. The focus is on five tensions, each of them also proposing new potentials. Namely it is about the overproduction of goods and the turn of goods into ‘bads’; societal abundance versus inequality of access; abundance of knowledge and its misdirection towards skills; the individualisation of problems and their emergence as societal threat and the complexity of government and the limited scope of governance.
Peter Herrmann
added 12 project references
Peter Herrmann
added a project goal
Changes in the broad, ill-defined area of socio-economic and industrial development – commonly linked to catchwords as ‘industry 4.0’, ‘big-data-revolution’ or more specifically ‘Uberisation’ – are of multiple interest as they pose questions concerned with foundations of the entire social fabric. The three main areas of contemporary studies can be presented by the following lead questions:
• What is actually happening and how can we gain a comprehensive picture of the changes?
• How can we re-establish and maintain the status quo ante of the traditional Worlds of Welfare Capitalism?
• How can we utilise the changes in order to secure continued growth and obtain a trickle-down effect for a general improvement of living conditions?
Each of these approaches has a very specific and tightly defined focus from where it departs (e.g. political institutionalism and a related legal understanding of social security and responsibility, economics and its concern with generating profit, technological conditions of value generation) which determines the direction of defining challenges and also of searching for an answer.
I suggest the need for a fourth way that is necessary in research, highlighting the conditions and the objectives pushed towards a system that goes beyond a linear extrapolation of current trends without changing the baseline on which it rests. Focussing on five main tensions, namely the overproduction of goods and the turn of goods into ‘bads’; societal abundance versus inequality of access; abundance of knowledge and its misdirection towards skills; the individualisation of problems and their emergence as societal threat and the complexity of government and the limited scope of governance, it will be possible to elaborate an understanding of societal development and required politics and policies that go beyond particularist approaches, allowing the elaboration of a pathway towards sustainable socio-economic development.
Theoretical and methodological points of reference are taken from four areas:
First the theory of social quality which allows an understanding of the social that is based in focussing on the production and reproduction of everyday’s life. As meta-theory it helps to maintain such a localist focus and provide at the same time a meaningful perspective for tracing global developments, acknowledging their specificity.
Second the theory of regulation as developed in French political economy, dealing with accumulation regimes and modes of regulation, is proposed in a widened understanding: first it includes two further distinct aspects, namely living regime and mode of life; second, instead of maintaining the limited view on capitalist societies – namely the capitalist form of accumulation – it is suggested to open the concept towards an understanding that is not only concerned with profit-oriented processes within a utilitarian system but also open to generating social values in a collective system.
Third, any such approach can only be meaningful if it refers to a rights-based perspective on social security – however, here another addition is proposed, namely one that highlights the pre-juridical, normative conditions. As such we are concerned with a combined approach to human-right law and constitutional law.
Fourth, the latter reference – to constitutional law – highlights the inclusion of a strong emphasis of social practice.
Some preliminary studies on different aspects had been already taken up in previous own work. Detailing the work that had been undertaken so far and extending it by drawing it together it will aim on presenting a ‘new social contract’ as point of reference of analysis of current developments and as outline for developing directions for the future.