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Grounding the digital: unpacking the socio-political complexities of digital transformation in agriculture 
Jongheon Kim (INRAE)
Karine Gauche (Institut Agro Montpellier)
Pierre-Benoit Joly (INRA / UPEM)
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Traditional Open Panel
Wednesday 17 July, -
Time zone: Europe/Amsterdam
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Short Abstract:

This panel explores the tensions that arise from the digital transformation of agriculture, a sector comparatively late to introduce digital technologies. Through dialogues between locally-rooted empirical studies, we spotlight the unique opportunities and complexities characterizing this shift.

Long Abstract:

In the current digital era, agriculture finds itself at a critical intersection between various pressures and processes, notably environmental challenges and emerging technological landscapes. This panel dissects the multifaceted digital transformation of agriculture, laying special emphasis on digital technologies and relevant initiatives devoted to small and family-scale farms through an STS lens.

We posit that focusing on these novel innovation paths will unveil a unique set of socio-political, ethical, and practical complexities, markedly different from those associated with preceding precision agriculture processes and macro-level initiatives led by global and national actors. Specifically, we draw attention to how local actors selectively translate circulating technological promises, embedding them into specific socio-cultural contexts throughout the co-creative process involving both technologies and social orders.

To achieve these objectives, our panel invites empirical contributions from diverse geographical contexts. Our aims are to: (1) Illuminate the unique challenges and opportunities presented by innovative approaches for small-scale agriculture; (2) Investigate the governance frameworks and power dynamics inherent to grassroots-level digital initiatives; (3) Examine the lived experiences of a diverse array of stakeholders in agriculture—including policymakers, farmers, researchers, and startups—situated within these locally-grounded, innovative approaches to digital transformation; and (4) Articulate of diverse sectoral and regional perspectives to build a fair, interdisciplinary, and resilient digital agriculture paradigm that sidesteps technosolutionism.

By exploring the intertwined futures of digital technologies, local governance, and agriculture, this panel aspires to offer insights into this emerging terrain to the STS community. Specifically, through the focus on empirical findings across various geographical and socio-political landscapes, we seek to catalyze cross-contextual analyses within the STS community, thereby deepening our collective understanding of the ethical dimensions, governance challenges, and potentialities embedded in the pursuit of a more inclusive digital transformation both within and beyond the agricultural sector. For this purpose, we invite submissions of empirically-oriented papers.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Wednesday 17 July, 2024, -