SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

International Research Symposium. Post-Automation? Exploring Democratic Alternatives to Industry 4.0

11-13 September 2019

Science Policy Research Unit
University of Sussex, Brighton, UK

About the Symposium

We are delighted to invite proposals for papers for the International Research Symposium on Post-Automation? Towards Democratic Alternatives to Industry 4.0. The Symposium will explore the idea of post-automation, critically and constructively. Theoretically-informed and empirically-grounded papers are invited that address what a “post-automation” vantage point might bring to ongoing debates about how societies produce and consume, in light of social concern for sustainable developments, dignified work and social justice, and a business-led push for Industry 4.0 and circular economy.

More information and themes

The symposium will a be conducted in a workshop format. Only those submitting papers may attend. Participants will be expected to present their paper and actively participate in critical discussion and group work sessions. For further information, please see the full outline of the Symposium.

An interdisciplinary call - Who should submit

This call is an invitation for diversity and plurality. Applicants from PhD students to senior Professors are welcome from science and technology studies, sociology of work, social anthropology, engineering, innovation studies, design, geography, sustainability studies, and other relevant areas. The key is to provide an explanation of how your proposed paper can contribute to an open, engaged and collaborative exploration of the idea of post-automation, and to see what work can and cannot be made of that idea. You can propose questions (and answers) that you think should be central to a post-automation research agenda. These might include, for example:

  • How can post-automation alter perspectives, understandings and practices in technology-society relations?
  • What methods can bring insight, facilitate dialogue, and assist developments in post-automation across the scales of projects, workshops, sectors and societies?
  • How is post-automation manifesting in different places and circulating between places, for example across the global North and global South?
  • How might social theory in post-automation reframe public debate and move policy beyond reactions to automation, and into proactive alternatives for sustainable technology-society relations?
  • How post-automation might help to re-imagine an economy based on commons goods?

How to Apply

I. Please send a 500-word maximum paper abstract and 100-word bio for each author (including contact details and affiliation) as a single document. In both sections, please explain how you relate and contribute to the idea of post-automation. Please email your abstracts as a Word file to bsre@sussex.ac.uk stating the Symposium title in the subject area of the email. The deadline for abstracts and bios is 20 March 2019.

II. Selected participants will be required to produce a maximum 3,000 word draft paper in advance of the Symposium by 20 July 2019 and present it for discussion there. At the Symposium we will read and discuss all the papers, and there will be group activities that map and explore emerging themes.

III. The Symposium will run from 11th September to 13th September 2019 at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK. Symposium papers will be circulated amongst participants only.

IV. Once papers are accepted, the organisers will explore the possibility of a special issue on post-automation with a leading scientific journal with participants who are interested in taking their research further. Participants who wish to contribute to any special issue will be invited to include revised versions of their papers, drawing upon insights arising in the Symposium.

V. The Symposium has no fees. Lunch, coffee breaks and the social dinner will be covered by the host organization. The organisers are able to cover the travel and accommodation costs for one author per paper only.

Upcoming deadlines 2019

  • 20 March: Abstracts Submission and Review
  • 15 April: Decisions on Abstracts
  • 20 July: Papers Submission
  • 11-13 September: International Research Symposium


Adrian Smith

Science Policy Research Unit

Mariano Fressoli

Fundación Cenit

Further information