Unravelling the Fourth Industrial Revolution: a co-word analysis

Published: 18-12-2018| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/fz273v49yg.1
Dominique Nijssen


The first decades of the 21st century are characterized by waves of innovation and by promises of technological breakthroughs. It is a commonplace to claim that we are on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is far from clear, however, what this claim entails: what is the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”? In this article we investigate the content of this label and its changes over time. We employ a co-word analysis of 3455 scientific publications as a method to unravel the changing content of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The paper shows that the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a label has changed over time, has a high volatility, is inarticulate about society, and absorbs everything that is somewhat promising.