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Digitalization as “an Agent of Social Change” in a Supermarket Chain: Applying Blumer's Theory of Industrialization in Contemporary Society

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number
Pages (from-to)637-656
Number of pages20
Issue number4
PublishedNov 2020

King's Authors


In this article I pursue Blumer's argument in Industrialization as an Agent of Social Change that social changes are the consequence of people's interpretation of technology. By examining oral history interviews with managers and other staff of the British supermarket chain Tesco I explore the relationship between “digitalization” and the organization of the business. The analysis reveals how the interviewees interpreted emerging computing technologies, and how the deployment of these technologies in the business impacted the material and ecological arrangement and the distribution of knowledge in the company. The article ends with a discussion of the relevance of Blumer's framework for contemporary studies of “digitalization” and social change.

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