The role of technology in eco-socialism


A review article. I plan to give a critical overview of existing work on what ecosocialism is, why it is needed, what the various strands are. Then: what are its programmes and what are the existing currents for a transition to it, and how could ICT support both of these.

1. Outline


2. Intro

What is the role of information and communications technology (ICT) in supporting a transition to ecosocialism?

Both the climate crisis and global inequality are pressing concerns of our time. Ecosocialism is a merging of socialist and environmental politics that strives for equity of resources and a fair standard of living for all, all while staying within planetary boundaries.

ICT underpins much of the infrastructure and operation of modern society. As a sector of industry, it has a significant environmental impact of its own; it also supports other industries; and it has an ever-increasing influence on how society communicates and is organised.

The way in which society uses ICT will undoubtedly play a role in how we transition to a more sustainable and equal world. For example, during the global protests of 2011 (the Arab Spring, Occupy, Movement of the Squares, etc) much was made of the use of social media to both agitate and organise ("Twitter revolutions", etc). These protests ultimately failed to change the dominant capitalist paradigm under which the majority of the world operates. What role could ICT play to transition to an ecosocialist future? How can ICT workers act to bring this transition about?

3. Background

3.1. Eco-socialism

To give context and a point of reference, you can situate ecosocialism within a wider space of the sustainable development debate. Within this space are a number of different tendencies with varying levels of concerns regarding the environment and socio-economic wellbeing and equality. These trends fall in to different bands of 'Status Quo', 'Reform', and 'Transition'. Those which are most eco-centred and most desiring of socio-economic well-being and equality, are ecofeminism, ecosocialism, social ecology and indigenous/'south' movements. They all fall into the 'Transformation' band. [Sustainable development: mapping different approaches]

3.1.1. Socialism

3.1.2. Environmentalism

3.1.4. Overview of different strands of ecosocialism

In terms of their ideas on:

  • transition
    • strategy and tactics
  • future
    • programme
    • governance structures

3.1.5. Resources

  • Red-Green Revolution
  • on ecosocialism and technology
  • has strand of what role technology plays throughout it. (with ICT mentioned explicity a few times)
  • to give overview of technology and ecosocialism specifically, and to get some initial thoughts on ICT and ecosocialism

3.2. Information and communication technology and society

3.2.2. ICT definition

3.2.3. Capitalism and ICT Concepts Claims

4. Eco-socialism and ICT

4.1. Socialism and ICT

4.1.2. Possible claims

4.1.4. Resources

4.3. Ecosocialism and ICT

What do the existing eco-socialist tendencies say about technology and specifically information and communication technology (big tech etc)

4.3.1. Various prongs

The material impacts prong has more coverage at present. I want to focus more on the political/organisational impacts. Material impacts Control impacts, surveillance, hegemony Organisational impacts
  • how can we use it for organisation and transition?
  • how does it get co-opted (e.g. cambridge analytica, trump, brexit, etc)

4.3.2. Concepts

4.3.3. Claims

4.3.4. Resources

  • Digital Ecosocialism: Breaking the power of Big Tech
  • Technology and Ecosocialism
    comparison of ecosocialist and capitalist technology, sectoral overview of ecosocialist technologies.
    Relation to question
    has strand of what role technology plays throughout it.
    How to use it
    to give overview of technology and ecosocialism specifically, and to get some initial thoughts on ICT and ecosocialism
    Relation to question
    seems very relevant.
  • Red-Green Revolution
    on ecosocialism and technology
    Relation to question
    has strand of what role technology plays throughout it. (with ICT mentioned explicity a few times)
    How to use it
    to give overview of technology and ecosocialism specifically, and to get some initial thoughts on ICT and ecosocialism
    Relation to question
    seems very relevant.

5. Points to intervene

With regards to systems thinking. What are the points to intervene in a system with regards to a transition to eco-socialism - earth system, political systems, economic systems? Through the lens of technology, presumably.

6. Misc

  • Network technology (social media) was discussed heavily as part of the 2011 uprisings, though all of those ultimately did not bring a socialist outcome long-term. Another political approach needed, maybe another technology tool too?
  • Perhaps self-governance is a part of that. c.f. Governable stacks. Take back the stacks.
  • "These instructions assume you are using Microsoft Word, but other word-processing software should work in a similar way." we are pushed down a certain path.
  • Solarpunk maybe

6.1. Unsorted

6.2. Learning plan and log

6.2.1. Plan

6.2.2. Log

  • The Stack as an Integrative Model of Global Capitalism
    • 2022-11-06
    • 2h
    • 3
    • Useful to learn about the idea of the Stack, i.e. big tech platforms and their control over whole vertical sections of ICT. Additionally, provides some commons-based options as ways to intervene.
  • First and Third World Ecosocialisms
    Date read
    Time spent
    1h 15m
    Useful for further understanding of the debate on different aspects of ecosocialism. Peripheral mention of technology in the abstract, but not specifically much to do with ICT (one mention of repair, though)
  • The Cybersyn Revolution

7. Writing time log

8. Tutor group introduction

  • liam
    • systems thinking
  • pav
  • suzanne
    • ecological restoration in resilience
  • anne-marie
    • What is embodied energy's impact on a school's carbon footprint?
  • hannah
    • systems thinking in practice
  • jackie
    • ethics of design
    • avoid making things that can't be recycled
  • christine
    • recycling necklace
    • upcycling and recycling
    • sustainability academy (in austria) based in an old monastery
  • point of tutor group
    • community of practice
    • triumphs and despair of independent research

9. questions

  • levels
    • peer reviewed - that's level 3
    • books, online articles?
    • openlearn gives you levels
    • what's the purpose of the levels?
    • postgrade and peer reviewed
    • is it in the academic domain or not?
    • use your common sense (don't use wikipedia)
    • phrasebank - manchester university
    • think about whether something has a criticality about it?
    • not too much 'phd' level, but theorists who feed out of the philosophy
    • level 3 postgrad - critique of theory;
      • undergrad: explaining the theory
      • so looks for resources that critique (not just applying theory into practice, describing)
      • it's quite subtle, and there's lots of elements of your own judgement
      • work a line from theory to models to philosophy
      • you might take theory and literature for practice, but you still need to be critiquing
  • working out the scope of your research question?
    • trying and get a gauge on how to make it fit in to scope of the project
    • trying to shoehorn it into geographic area, particularly demographics
    • can you do this over time, or should it be pretty clear right at the beginning?
  • bias?
    • i've explicitly mentioned socialist politics

      it what ways is X connected to Y and then, dive a bit deeper, how much do you think

  • state the worldview upfront
  • be upfront, and add the conditionality to the question

range of frameworks, which is the best fit to support sustinability

  • see it as a learning process
  • compare and contrast other frameworks
    • draw of other research that presents some discussion of these frameworks
    • susan george, work on capitalism, the legano report,

10. Elsewhere

10.1. In my garden

Notes that link to this note (AKA backlinks).

10.3. Mentions

This page last updated: 2022-11-26 Sat 12:01. Map. Recent changes. Source. Peer Production License.