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Robo-Advice (RA): implications for the sociology of the professions

Mark N. Wexler (Business and Society Group, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)
Judy Oberlander (Business and Society Group, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 30 December 2021

Issue publication date: 14 February 2023

450

Abstract

Purpose

This conceptual paper explores the implications for the sociology of the professions of robo-advice (RA) provided by robo-advisors (RAs) as an early example of successfully programmed algorithmic knowledge managed by artificial intelligence (AI).

Design/methodology/approach

The authors examine the drivers of RAs, their success, characteristics, and establish RA as an early precursor of commercialized, programmed professional advice with implications for developments in the sociology of the professions.

Findings

Within the lens of the sociology of the professions, the success of RAs suggests that the diffusion of this innovation depends on three factors: the programmed flows of automated professional knowledge are minimally disruptive, they are less costly, and attract attention because of the “on-trend” nature of algorithmic authority guided by AI. The on-trend nature of algorithmic governance and its increasing public acceptance points toward an algorithmic paradox. The contradictions arise in the gap between RA marketed to the public and as a set of professional practices.

Practical implications

The incursion of RA-like disembodied advice into other professions is predicted given the emergence of tech-savvy clients, the tie between RA and updatable flows of big data, and an increasing shift to the “maker” or “do-it-yourself” movements.

Originality/value

Using the success of RAs in the financial industry, the authors predict that an AI-managed platform, despite the algorithmic paradox, is an avenue for growth with implications for researchers in the sociology of the professions.

Keywords

Citation

Wexler, M.N. and Oberlander, J. (2023), "Robo-Advice (RA): implications for the sociology of the professions", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 43 No. 1/2, pp. 17-32. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-09-2021-0245

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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