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Machine Habitus: Toward a Sociology of Algorithms

On september 20th, Massimo Airoldi will present his latest book at the médialab seminar.

Rendez-vous, Séminaire de recherche

Paris, 1 Saint-Thomas d'Aquin

Abstract

Machine Habitus: Toward a Sociology of Algorithms (Polity, 2021) articulates a Bourdieusian theory of machine learning systems as socialized agents contributing to the (techno-)social reproduction of cultural patterns and inequalities. Building on a multidisciplinary literature in sociology, critical algorithm studies, media research and computer science, Airoldi’s book discusses how research on algorithmic bias would benefit from a sociological perspective aimed to unpack the recursive mechanisms linking the “culture in the code” – i.e., the social shaping of machine learning – and the “code in the culture” – i.e., the algorithmic shaping of society. The notion of “machine habitus” illuminates how socially rooted cultural propensities embedded in data orient the allegedly neutral classificatory behavior of machine learning models, with important yet understudied consequences on consumption, public opinion, culture and social life more generally

Biography

Massimo Airoldi is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Department of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Milan. Previously he worked as researcher and Assistant Professor at the Lifestyle Research Center of EM Lyon Business School. His research interests include critical algorithm studies, computational methods, consumer culture and cultural taste. He is the author of Machine Habitus: Toward a Sociology of Algorithms (Polity, 2021).