Current discussions on digitization often invoke the process of a new organizing mode of various domains of our political, economic, and social life. Although the way in which we understand the implications of digitization is rendered manifold, at least, there seems to be a consensus, in that digitalization is one of the – if not the – defining characteristics of our contemporary world, which propels the creation of a new space, or a new idea thereof, wherein physical interactions in communications, social and political exchange, commerce, media and entertainment are displaced by digitally mediated ones. Digitization has changed not only the modalities of our political, economic, and social activities, but also and perhaps more importantly our idea of collective conscience and communities.
It is manifested, for example, as the industry’s prevalence toward innovations, automation, big data, and artificial intelligence enabled by the application of digital technologies, or as some government-led programs that focus on the positive changes offered by increased digitization (i.e. ‘Industry 4.0 in Germany, and ‘Society 5.0’ in Japan).
Digitalization has created a new kind of division among individuals, households, generations, communities, or states. The so-called digital divide describes inequality in terms of access to and usage of information and communication technology. In today’s network society, to be switched off is to be sentenced to marginality.
This symposium focuses on the intersection between the digital space (and spatialization of non-physical realm by digital technology) and social inclusion / exclusion, rethinking the political, economic, and social implications of digitization, the new boundary between inside and outside, between us and them, and the issues of new forms of inequality and marginalization, with specific reference to and comparison between German and Japanese experience.