The Discursive Construction of Digitalization


New forms of work intermediation – the gig economy – and the growing use of advanced digital technologies – the new knowledge economy – are changing the nature of work. The digitalization of work, however, is shaped by how countries respond to it. But how countries respond to digitalization, we argue, depends on how digitalization is perceived in the first place. Using text-as-data methods on a novel corpus of translated newspaper and policy documents from eight European countries as well as qualitative evidence from interviews and secondary sources, we show that there are clear country effects in how digitalization is framed and fought over. Drawing on discursive–institutionalist and coalitional approaches, we argue that institutional differences explain these discursive differences by structuring interpretative struggles in favor of the social coalitions that support them. Actors, however, can also challenge these institutions by using the discursive agency to change these underlying support coalitions.

Timo Seidl
Timo Seidl

I am a Post-Doc at the University of Vienna’s Centre for European Integration Research (EIF).