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Politicized social imaginaries: How partisan ‘truth-makers’ derailed Google’s 2018 congressional hearing

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Our pursuit for a social order is an epistemic and heuristic process and involves making sense of our observations and imaginations. Technologies are a part of our imagined futures but they also have social and political dimensions, and can have negative consequences either from abuse or flaws in design. Using the concept of social imaginaries by Charles Taylor, and sociotechnical imaginaries by Shiela Jasanoff, this study analyses the U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing of Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai from December 2018. The use of specific social imaginaries around Google’s technologies and Google as a corporation by members of political parties points towards the role of political intentionality and performativity in manufacturing public consent around governance decisions. Such imaginaries are termed as politicized social imaginaries as they are not employed for cognitive interpretation of technological concepts, but used to drive partisan political narratives.
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