Call for papers

Background to this special issue

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the world as we know it. Often described as a driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, together with nanotechnology, robotics, and the Internet of Things, AI drives digital transformation in all contexts. However, even if AI – referring to machines performing cognitive functions typically associated with humans – is new, technology-driven social change is not. The impact of AI is however likely to be significant, with industries spanning finance, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, supply chain, and logistics, all being potentially disrupted by the onset of AI technologies. With AI introducing a set of new social, ethical, economical, and legal issues in a wide range of societal contexts, it is vital to address them from a critical social science perspective.

Today’s social science scholars are well equipped for addressing AI’s broader social implications, but thus far we have seen very few examples of social science research on AI. In fact, it has been demonstrated that the link between AI and the social sciences has weakened over time. Social science scholars need to be actively engaged in shaping the trajectory of artificial intelligence and its impacts. We need a critical social science of AI. This is the focal concern for this JDSR special issue.


The two-fold goal of this JDSR special issue is, first, to provide critical social analyses of AI in context, and second, to assess how we need to adapt and reinvent social science theories and research methods to deal effectively with the challenges and opportunities of AI. We encourage work that will challenge existing theories and methods in the context of AI.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

The legislative, ethical, moral, and societal implications of AI, including but not limited to issues of

  • algorithms

  • social bots

  • ownership and commercialisation

  • bias, discrimination, and oppression (race, sex, class, north/south relations, etc.)

  • automated decision making

  • warfare and weaponisation

  • labour-market impacts

  • human/(ro)bot relationships

  • intellectual property rights

  • discourses and ideologies of AI (dystopia, utopia, and beyond)

  • Data security, and privacy in AI contexts.

  • Theory development aligning with the ongoing AI transformation of society (e.g. how do existing methods of society/technology, agency, and so on, hold in the age of AI?)

  • Research method development aligning with the ongoing AI transformation of society (including AI, e.g. machine learning, as social science research method)

Process and timeline

Full papers are due January 31, 2020.

Papers will undergo no more than two stages of full peer review. After the second round of review, papers will either be rejected or conditionally accepted, potentially with a third round of revisions involving only editorial review.