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Interrogating the Fourth Industrial Revolution Discourse: A Theoretical Critique

17 October 2019
12:30 - 14:00

Date:     17 October 2019
Time:     12h30 – 14:00

Presenter: Professor Mokong Mapadimeng (Research Director, ESD)

Chair: Ms Bongi Mncwango (ESD); Discussants: Dr Michael Gastrow (ESD); Mr Krish Chetty (DGSD)

Venues in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town (Video Conferencing facilities: See below)

The concept of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has high contemporary currency and is marked by claims that it will fundamentally alter the world we live in, and therefore warrants strategic responses to optimise the opportunities it presents while mitigating its likely undesirable consequences. In this seminar, and drawing from long wave theories that were previously used to account for epochal societal changes, notably major transitions such as from pre-industrial feudalism to industrial capitalism, a theoretical critique of the discourse is advanced.

Identified as major weaknesses within the discourse, are: the absence of a theoretically anchored explanatory account of the changes said to be underway; contradictions and inconsistencies amongst proponents of the 4IR around its periodisation; and exaggerated claims made without supporting evidence about the progressive nature of the technologies that define the 4IR phenomenon. This seminar offers a theoretical critique and outlines a proposal for an in-depth qualitative analysis located within long wave theories of change. Its key argument is that such an undertaking would allow for a much more nuanced account and grasp of present day technological innovations, which in turn, should inform strategic responses by the less developed world.

Kindly RSVP by 15 October  2019

Pretoria: HSRC Video Conference Room, 1st  floor HSRC Library, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria.
Contact Arlene Grossberg  | T: (012) 302 2811  | E:
Cape Town: HSRC Video Conference Room, Merchant House 116-118 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town.
Contact Shouneez Khan| T: (021) 466 7948 | E:
Durban: HSRC Video Conference Room, The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001.
Contact Ridhwaan Khan  | T: (031) 242 5400  | C: 083 788 2786  | E:  or Wiseman Mbambo |  E:

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DST.