Unveiling 100 years of digitalization as a scholarly object


  • Katarina L. Gidlund Mid Sweden University
  • Leif Sundberg Mid Sweden University




digitalization, definition, phenomenon, academic production, bibliometric analysis


Digitalization is frequently mentioned in government policies and academic discourse where it is often being associated with expectations of societal rebirth and large-scale changes. However, little attention has been given to evolutionary aspects of the phenomenon of digitalization. Thus, in this paper, we aim to contribute by focusing on the concept of digitalization in a structured manner and answering the following question: How has the concept of digitalization travelled throughout academic discourse? To focus on digitalization as a scholarly object, we utilized bibliometric analyses of research articles ranging across 10 decades. We produced bibliographic maps of keywords and co-citation networks of sources and performed visual cluster analysis of these maps using techniques from VOSviewer and ScientoPy bibliometric software. This operation was conducted to facilitate discussion on the evolution of digitalization from a semi-genealogical perspective and to open up a discussion on continuity, density, convergence, and digitalization as a signifier. By combining bibliometric data with genealogical analysis, we identified how digitalization has traveled from specific contexts (medical use and information conversion) to a more general use after the turn of the millennium. Moreover, a pattern of convergence during the last decade surfaced, where digitalization has become associated with ideas of a digitally transformed society. Through these findings, this paper contributes to current literature on digitalization with a novel analysis of the term’s evolution.




How to Cite

Gidlund, K. L., & Sundberg, L. (2022). Unveiling 100 years of digitalization as a scholarly object. First Monday, 27(8). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v27i8.12319