, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 405–411 | Cite as

From industry 4.0 to society 4.0, there and back

  • Tatiana MazaliEmail author
Open Forum


The new industrial paradigm Industry 4.0, or smart industry, is at the core of contemporary debates. The public debate on Industry 4.0 typically offers two main perspectives: the technological one and the one about industrial policies. On the contrary, the discussion on the social and organizational effects of the new paradigm is still underdeveloped. The article specifically examines this aspect, and analyzes the change that workers are subject to, along with the work organization, smart digital factories. The study originates from an empirical survey conducted by the author together with a multidisciplinary research group between 2014 and 2015 in some of the largest Italian factories.

In particular, the article analyzes the links between digital society, digital culture and Industry 4.0, focusing on the issue of people’s participation in the process of change, within a specific case study from the railway sector.

Many elements of the Industry 4.0 paradigm are widespread outside the factory, in society; they are not only technological elements but also cultural. One of the key aspects of the analysis is the question of participation and the “person-centered” culture. The subject is addressed critically by presenting both the RE-personalization processes (from the centrality of the users–consumers in consumption practices to the centrality of the worker in the work paradigm 4.0) and the new processes of DE personalization caused by digital automation.


Industry 4.0 Workers 4.0 Digital media culture Person-centered culture Personalization processes Digital automation 



The results presented in this article are part of an empirical research conducted by the research center Torino Nord Ovest, between January 2014 and December 2015, commissioned by IAL Nazionale, FIM CISL Piemonte, Istituto Superiore Mario Boella and also financed with the support of the Fondo Fapi. This research could not be conducted without the help of various managers in production, engineering, innovation, human resources and industrial relationships who have welcomed us to their plants and guided us through them giving us in-depth explanations of the processes.


  1. Arand K, Zeeman L, Scholes J, Morales AS (2012) The resilient subject: exploring subjectivity, identity and the body in narratives of resilience. Health 16(5):548–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atkinson W (2010) Class, individualization and late modernity: in search of the reflexive worker. Palgrave Macmillan, BasingstokeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck U (1992) Risk society: towards a new modernity. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Beck U, Giddens A, Lash S (1994) Reflexive modernization. Polity Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  5. Bower JL, Christensen CM (1995) Disruptive technologies: catching the wave. Harvard Bus Rev 73(1):43–53Google Scholar
  6. Castells M (1997) The power of identity. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  7. Cherns A (1976) The principles of sociotechnical design. Hum Relat 29(8):783–792CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dore R (1987) Taking Japan seriously. StanfordUniversity Press, Palo AltoGoogle Scholar
  9. Dujarier MA (2008) Le travail du consommateur. La Découverte, ParisGoogle Scholar
  10. European Commission (2010) Factories of the future PPP. strategic multi-annual roadmap. Publications Office of the European Union, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  11. European Commission (2013) Factories of the future: Multi-annual roadmap for the contractual PPP under Horizon 2020. LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  12. Germany’s Federal Government (2014) The new high-tech strategy innovations for Germany. BMBF, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  13. Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (2010) Ideas. Innovation. Prosperity. High-tech strategy 2020 for Germany. BMBF, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  14. Gouvernemente Française (2015) Industrie du futur. Réunir la Nouvelle France IndustrielleGoogle Scholar
  15. Governo italiano, Ministero dello sviluppo economico (2016) Piano Nazionale Industria 4.0. Ministero dello sviluppo economico, RomaGoogle Scholar
  16. Huws U (2016) Platform labour: sharing economy or virtual wild West? J Progres Econ:24–27Google Scholar
  17. Jenkins H (2006) Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. New York University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Kotler P (1989) From mass marketing to mass customization. Plan Rev 17(5):10–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kumar A (2007) From mass customization to mass personalization: a strategic transformation. Int J Flex Manuf Syst 19:533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lee MK, Kusbit D, Metsky E, Dabbish L (2015) Working with machines: the impact of algorithmic and data-driven management on human workers. In: CHI 2015, proceedings of the 33rd annual ACM conference on human factors in computing systems, ACM, New York, pp 1603–1612Google Scholar
  21. Magone A, Mazali T (eds) (2016) Industria 4.0. Uomini e macchine nella fabbrica digitale. Guerini e Associati, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  22. Manovich L (2001) The language of new media. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  23. Manovich L (2009) The practice of everyday (media) life: from mass consumption to mass cultural production? Crit Inq 35(2):319–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Middlemiss L (2014) Individualised or participatory? Exploring late-modern identity and sustainable development. Environ Polit 23(6):929–946CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mumford E (2003) Redesigning human systems. Idea Group, HersheyCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Petrick IJ, Simpson TW (2013) 3D printing disrupts manufacturing: how economies of one create new rules of competition. Res Technol Manag 56:12–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ramsay H (1977) Cycles of control: worker participation in sociological and historical perspective. Sociology 11(3):481–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Scholz T (ed) (2013) Digital labor. The internet as playground and factory. Routledge, NewYorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Sennett R (1998) The corrosion of character: the personal consequences of work in the new capitalism. Norton & Co, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Sennett R (2008) The craftsman. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  31. Silverstone R (ed) (2005) Media, technology and everyday life in Europe. Ashgate, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  32. Silverstone R, Hirsch E (eds) (1992) Consuming technologies, media and information in domestic spaces. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. Steiner C, Dixon W (2012) Automate this: how algorithms came to rule our world. Portfolio, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Toffler A (1980) The third wave. William Morrow & Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Tseng MM, Hu SJ (2014) Mass customization. CIRP Encycl Prod Eng:836–843Google Scholar
  36. Wellman B (2011) Community networks online. In: Keeble L (ed) The rise of networked individualism. Taylor & Francis, LondonGoogle Scholar
  37. Womack JP, Jones DT, Roos D (1990) The machine that change the world: the story of lean production. Simon & Schuster, New JerseyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Polytechnic University of Turin|Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and PlanningTurinItaly

Personalised recommendations