Abstract - The Information Society 31(3)

SPECIAL ISSUE: Beyond Industrial Robotics: Social Robots Entering Public and Domestic Spheres


Rationalizing Sociality: An Unfinished Script for Socialbots

Maria Bakardjieva

This paper takes the concept and some of the existing applications of socialbots – software robots that operate on social networking sites and present themselves as human users – as an occasion to trace the evolution of online sociality. The argument mobilizes theories of social rationalization from Max Weber to contemporary critical theory to demonstrate that the appearance of automated profiles (socialbots) on social networking platforms can be seen as a logical step in the progressive enclosure of online social interaction in standardized, simplified and trivialized forms, frames and gestures.  Critical questions concerning what the growth of robo-sociality may mean for individual users and the online public sphere are posed with a view to charting the directions for a needed public debate.


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