The Information Revolution is considered by many to be an epochal shift in contemporary global economic, social, political and cultural history, comparable with the previous major shift of the Industrial Revolution. Scholars continue to explore and analyze the unparalleled rapid development of information and communication network technologies – most recently that of the Internet and World Wide Web.
Fundamental to such work is the underlying question: is global society at large leaving the age of industrialism behind and entering an age of post-industrialism?
The consequences of the Information Revolution for labour and labour relations in particular have been studied by a broad range of social scientists and analysts, especially within the realms of social theory, political economy, geography, and cultural studies. Yet in many of these analyses, the historical perspective is often missing. Therefore, it is from a distinct historical perspective that we intend to devote Supplement 11 of the International Review of Social History (IRSH), to be published in December 2003, to the labour history aspects of the Information Revolution. The Supplement will also be published by Cambridge University Press as a book issue in the Spring of 2004.
The leading questions of the volume will be:
what has been the role and position of human labour in the
development of the Information Revolution;
how have technologies and practices of the Information Revolution
in turn influenced work and labour relations;
how have spatial and temporal divisions of labor changed together
with new technology-enabled spatial and temporal flows of capital and
just how new and unique is this Information Age, or stated
differently: just how revolutionary is the Information Revolution?
With this approach we hope to invoke explorations and analyses of the historical origins of the information revolution, the historical continuities that can be discerned in its development, and the role and position of labour in it.
Our aim is to put together a volume with articles which can deal with this theme in a number of ways. Sample topics might include:
Comparisons between this informational revolution and earlier revolutionary developments in technologies related to information and knowledge, the related position of labour and labour relations, and the broader societal consequences of these developments. For example: printing and typesetting; telegraph and telephone; radio and television; etc.
Historical linkages between changes in "virtual" information infrastructures of networked communication (moving information electronically, whether analog or digital, wired or wireless) and changes in "physical" information infrastructures of networked transport (moving information materially, in the form of paper and film, optical and magnetic media, or humans themselves). For example: postal systems and "next-day" courier services moving documents; commuter railroads and inter-city air shuttles moving people and their ideas.
Geographical comparisons in terms of the changing temporal rhythms and spatial boundaries of production facilities, labor markets, places of capital accumulation, and sites for the reproduction of labor power, as affected by networked information technologies. For example: telephone-based work in skyscrapers; forms of putting out system, such as PC-based telework in suburbs; shifts to "virtual firms" and global corporations.
Historical changes in identity, diversity, and equity as various social groups characterized by gender, race/ethnicity, age, education, and other factors are incorporated in the production of information technologies, infrastructures, and commodities under different sets of social relations in different times and places. For example: the early twentieth century construction of the office secretary; educating Cold War computer engineers; and historical origins of present-day "digital divide" discourses.
Submission of abstracts and articles:
Please submit abstracts for proposed articles before 1 May 2002. Confine the abstracts to 400 - 800 words, stating clearly the definition of the problem(s) that will be dealt with, the sources to be used, and an outline of the main argument to develop in the article. You will receive a response by 31 May 2002. A first draft of the article should be ready for the Editorial Committee by 1 October 2002; the final version must be completed by 1 December 2002. Please, state clearly your name, postal address and e-mail address when submitting your proposal.
International Institute of Social History
1019 AT Amsterdam
fax + 31 20 6654181
Greg Downey, Assistant Professor
School of Library & Information Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
5115 Vilas Hall
821 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706
fax + 1 (608) 263-4849 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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