Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have changed our lives significantly over the last few decades, and they will continue to do so. ICTs influence the way we live, work, and organize. These changes we are facing as societies (and as individuals) bear positive and negative side effects that concern academia as well, since science and research serve a function in and for society.
Deadline for full paper submission: February 28th, 2010.
What kind of academic field do we need to meet the challenges of the information age?
Many different research approaches have emerged over the last decades that aim at explaining, shaping, and forecasting social change related to an increasing penetration, miniaturization, and convergence of ICTs.
tripleC suggests the designation of this research area as ICTs-and-Society to indicate its broad perspective. The term ICTs itself is broad enough to capture Internet, Web, Web 2.0, Social Media, Social Networks, new mobile technologies, ambient technologies, etc. Society too, can refer to society at large, or to certain aspects, of society, such as economy, ecology, politics, culture, etc., and includes both individuals and organizations.
However this research area is defined, and from which disciplinary background it is viewed, there are several shared problems, since ICTs-and-Society is not (yet?) an established discipline. “Disciplines share central themes, shared terminology with (assumed) common definitions, a canon of literature considered essential. There are agreed-on methodologies, theoretical structures, and evaluative criteria to assess research [...]” (Baym 2005, 230). Internet or ICT-research therefore is more like an organization with a core problem. For Shrum (2005, 274) it is an “indiscipline” where “[e]veryone is welcome, no matter what your perspective, no matter whom you cite, no matter what method you choose for your research.” Researchers such as Hunsinger (2005), Fuchs (2008), Hofkirchner et al (2007), suggest that ICTs-and-Society research should be considered as a transdiscipline.
Transdisciplinarity and Transdisciplines
There is still no common understanding of the term transdisciplinarity, especially regarding theoretical foundations, methodologies used, or evaluation criteria. Many scholars agree that transdisciplinary research transgresses not only disciplinary boundaries, but those of academia in general and thus should include stakeholders in the research process. Nevertheless, all acceptations of transdisciplinarity include the concept of integrative research concept based on cooperation, with greater or lesser emphasis on theory vs. the pragmatics of problem-solving. The fact that “ICTs-and-Society” involves the disciplines of information and computer science, economics, sociology and political science, psychology and philosophy and perhaps more suggests that ICTs-and-Society is a transdisciplinary field of research par excellence.
The Special Issue of tripleC
In this special issue of tripleC we are seeking answers to the following questions in the areas of ICTs-and Society and ICTs-and-Society as a transdiscipline:
- Is ICTs-and-Society a research field? If not, should it be?
- What is current practice and methodology?
- What are the main questions and challenges?
- Which topics does it cover?
- What kind of models of ICTs, Society and Transdisciplines are most appropriate?
- How can ICTs-and-Society be located in the academic landscape?
- What kinds of interdisciplinary and/or transdisciplinary theory, empirical research, epistemology, and ethics are needed for ICTs and Society?
These questions are not intended to be exclusive, but as suggestions of topics of general interest. Their answers could lead to a new understanding of the field as such. It will allow for an assessment of its future perspectives as well as concerns of how it should emerge. It will help to answer the question of its possible impact on future programs, on education of students and early stage researchers.
In summary, this special issue of tripleC calls for high quality research papers from any theoretical, professional, or disciplinary perspective that offer innovative analysis that promote and provoke further debate about ICTs-and-Society as a subject of study.