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Whither the evolution of the contemporary social fabric? New technologies and old socio-economic trends

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  • Giovanni Dosi
  • Maria Enrica Virgillito

Abstract

The reflections which follow build on two interrelated questions, namely, first, whether we are witnessing another "industrial revolution", and second, what is the impact of technological transformations upon the current dynamics of the socio-economic fabric, especially with respect to employment, income distribution, working conditions and labour relations. We argue that the processes of innovation and diffusion of what we could call "intelligent automation" are likely to change, or more likely reinforce, the patterns of distribution of income and power, which have been there well before the arrival of the technologies we are concerned about: some are indeed intrinsic features of capitalism since its inception, while others are features of the last thirtyforty years. First, we shall offer a fresco of such tendencies which certainly preceded any potential "Fourth Industrial Revolution" but are going to be amplified by the latter. Second, we discuss the features of such possible new techno-economic paradigms. Third, we examine the relationships between technology, productivity and growth, and the ensuing impact on jobs, division of labour, distribution of knowledge, power, and control. Finally, we address some policy implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Dosi & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2019. "Whither the evolution of the contemporary social fabric? New technologies and old socio-economic trends," LEM Papers Series 2019/02, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2019/02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Flavio Calvino & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2016. "The Innovation-Employment nexus: a critical survey of theory and empirics," LEM Papers Series 2016/10, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
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    10. Zsófia L. Bárány & Christian Siegel, 2018. "Job Polarization and Structural Change," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 57-89, January.
    11. Dosi, Giovanni & Marengo, Luigi, 2015. "The dynamics of organizational structures and performances under diverging distributions of knowledge and different power structures," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 535-559, September.
    12. John Hutchinson & Damiaan Persyn, 2012. "Globalisation, concentration and footloose firms: in search of the main cause of the declining labour share," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 148(1), pages 17-43, April.
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    14. Robert J. Gordon, 2012. "Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds," NBER Working Papers 18315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Giovanni Dosi & Xiaodan Yu, 2017. "Technological catching-up, sales dynamics and employment growth: evidence from China's manufacturing firms," LEM Papers Series 2017/27, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    16. Florence Jaumotte & Carolina Osorio Buitron, 2015. "Inequality and Labor Market Institutions," IMF Staff Discussion Notes 15/14, International Monetary Fund.
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    Cited by:

    1. Armanda Cetrulo & Dario Guarascio & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2019. "Anatomy of the Italian occupational structure: concentrated power and distributed knowledge," LEM Papers Series 2019/34, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    2. Armanda Cetrulo & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2019. "Industry 4.0: revolution or hype? Reassessing recent technological trends and their impact on labour," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 46(3), pages 391-402, September.
    3. Marco Guerrazzi, 2020. "Wage and employment determination in a dynamic insider–outsider model," Evolutionary and Institutional Economics Review, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 1-23, January.
    4. Caselli, Mauro & Fracasso, Andrea & Marcolin, Arianna & Scicchitano, Sergio, 2021. "The reassuring effect of firms' technological innovations on workers' job insecurity," GLO Discussion Paper Series 938, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    5. Filippo Bertani & Marco Raberto & Andrea Teglio, 2020. "The productivity and unemployment effects of the digital transformation: an empirical and modelling assessment," Review of Evolutionary Political Economy, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 329-355, November.
    6. Dosi, Giovanni & Riccio, Federico & Virgillito, Maria Enrica, 2021. "Varieties of deindustrialization and patterns of diversification: why microchips are not potato chips," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 182-202.
    7. Angelo Moro & Matteo Rinaldini & Jacopo Staccioli & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2019. "Control in the era of surveillance capitalism: an empirical investigation of Italian Industry 4.0 factories," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 46(3), pages 347-360, September.
    8. G. Dosi & L. Fanti & M. E. Virgillito, 2020. "Unequal societies in usual times, unjust societies in pandemic ones," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 47(3), pages 371-389, September.
    9. Jacopo Staccioli & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2020. "The present, past, and future of labor-saving technologies," LEM Papers Series 2020/37, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social fabric; technology; macroeconomic development; division of labour; knowledge; inequality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • F6 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization

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