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Education and Godly Technology

Gender, Culture, and the Work of Home Schooling

Michael W. Apple

The secularity of the state is seen by 'authoritarian populist' religious conservatives as imposing a world-view that is out of touch with the deep religious commitments that guide their lives. In the process, authoritarian populists have taken on subaltern identities and claimed that they are the last truly dispossessed groups. To demonstrate their increasing power in educational and social policy, I situate a specific set of technologies—the Internet—within the social context of its use in this community. I focus on the growing home-schooling movement and suggest that to understand the societal meaning and uses of these technologies, we need to examine the social movement that provides the context for their use. I also argue that we need to analyze critically the kind of labor that is required in home schooling, who is engaged in such labor, and how such labor is interpreted by the actors who perform it.

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Brian Wemp

The Grands Magasins Dufayel, a huge department store built on the northern fringe of late nineteenth-century Paris, had an important cultural influence on the city's working class. In a neighborhood with few public spaces, it provided a consumer version of the public square. It encouraged workers to approach shopping as a social activity, just as the bourgeoisie did at the famous department stores in central Paris. Like the bourgeois stores, it helped transform consumption from a personal transaction between customer and merchant into an unmediated relationship between consumer and goods. Through advertising the store portrayed itself as a space where the working-class visitor could participate in new and exciting forms of entertainment and technology. Its unique instore cinema and exhibits of inventions like X-ray machines and the gramophone created a new kind of urban space that celebrated the close relationship between technology and consumer culture.

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Didier Gazagnadou

In this article, the author investigates, from an anthropological point of view, why many Iranian women (and even some men) resort to rhinoplasty – that is, surgery to alter the appearance of the nose – for cosmetic purposes. When did this phenomenon begin in Iran? Which social classes and ages are concerned? What is the relationship between this practice and Iranian society in general? Is it the result of foreign cultural influences? What comparisons can be made with other cultures? Born of a micro-sociological case, these interrogations address the anthropology of Iranian society, which, like many others, has been engaged for several decades in an ‘exchange process’ that today is commonly known as globalisation.

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Disruptive Technology

Social Media from Modiano to Zola and Proust

Elizabeth Emery

In this article, Patrick Modiano’s 2014 Nobel Prize acceptance speech serves as a springboard to consider the lieu commun that “disruptive technology” is killing both literature and the contemporary press. Modiano’s depiction of himself as part of an “intermediate generation,” trapped between the intense focus of great nineteenth-century novelists and the many distractions of contemporary writers, cleverly invoked millennial anxieties related to new technology in order to establish his own place within literary history.

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Technologies of Nonviolence

Ethical Participatory Visual Research with Girls

Astrid Treffry-Goatley, Lisa Wiebesiek, Naydene de Lange and Relebohile Moletsane

Rapid developments in digital technologies have sparked revolutionary shifts in participatory research. Emerging tools such as digital stories and cellphilms offer participants opportunities to engage actively in research and to produce media about their everyday lives. Yet, while these may enable such engagement, researchers need to ensure that the very tools meant as technologies of nonviolence are not in and of themselves violent. This article uses a technology-based, participatory visual methods workshop conducted with girls and young women as part of addressing sexual violence in a rural community in South Africa as a case study. We identify and reflect on some of the ethical issues that arose during the workshop and how we addressed them. Our aim is always to locate our work on addressing sexual violence with young rural women within an ethics of nonviolence rooted in and responsive to the context in which we work.

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Enrolling genetic technology in regulation

Struggles for recognition by biotechnologists in Norway

Sara Skodbo

This article addresses the need to overcome theoretical weaknesses of both technologically and socially deterministic accounts of technological development. Technology does not simply 'impact' on local contexts, but nor does it act as a tabula rasa, subject to the free attribution of meaning by local social actors. Expanding on theoretical developments in the anthropology of art (Gell 1998) and gender and technology (Strathern 1988, 1999, 2001), the essay seeks to explore genetic technology as a social agent and as a technological 'index'. Examining a case of genetic technology regulation and innovation in Norway, the article argues that technology is best understood as an agent that is engaged with on an affective basis by those who interact with it.

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Concrete transnationalism?

Bridge building in the new economy

Orvar Löfgren

In 2000 the bridge across Öresund linking Denmark and Sweden was finally opened. The bridge may appear as a classic, modernist piece of planning and technology, but the actual construction of the bridge coincided with the boom years of 'the new economy'. The ways in which the construction was organized and staged very much came to mirror some important trends of that new economy, including many of its buzz words. Over the years it became more and more unclear what actually was going on: a bridge construction or EU-invocations of a future transnational metropolis. This bridge project was densely inhabited by visions, dreams and expectations: there was so much this bridge could do. The article follows the various stages of the bridge project, from early dreams and plans, over the actual construction phase, to the grand opening ceremonies and finally the difficult transition into an everyday transport machine. I discuss the ways in which engineering and imagineering became intertwined and also how a transnational project like this made the nation state more visible and tangible.

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(Un)seen Seas

Technological Mediation, Oceanic Imaginaries, and Future Depths

Stephanie Ratté

Remote technologies and digitally mediated representations now serve as a central mode of interaction with hard-to-reach sea spaces and places. This article reviews the literature on varied scholarly engagements with the sea and on the oceanic application of technologies—among them geographic information systems, remotely operated vehicles, and autonomous underwater vehicles—that allow people to envision and engage with deep and distant oceanic spaces. I focus on the extension of a digital and disembodied human presence in the oceans and the persistence of frontier fictions, in which the sea figures as a site of future-oriented possibilities. Finally, I ask what the emphasis on “seeing” through technological mediation means for how we imagine vast spaces, and consider how these elements of the oceanic imaginary can be productively complicated by drawing attention to the materiality of the oceans and the scalar politics of dynamic spaces.

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The End of the Beginning

Normativity in the Postdigital Museum

Ross Parry

This article is an attempt to frame a way of seeing museums after the digital revolution. By introducing the concept of the ‘postdigital’, its aim is to evidence a tipping point in the adoption of new media in the museum—a moment where technology has become normative. The intention is not to suggest that digital media today is (or, indeed, should be) universally and equally adopted and assimilated by all museums, but rather to use the experience of several (national) museums to illustrate the normative presence digital media is having within some organizational strategies and structures. Having traced this perceived normativity of technology in these localized institutional settings, the article then attempts to reflect upon the consequences that the postdigital and the normative management of new media have for our approach to museological research.

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Wolfgang Krohn

This article presents a long-term study of German waste management policies and technologies as they developed during the second half of the twentieth century. The postwar "waste avalanche" called for quick and crude political decisions. Unexpected environmental side effects prompted new governance and leads through six different stages of policies based on scientific models and advanced technologies—all of them controversial. The case exemplifies a typical condition of a knowledge society. Politics demands a reliable knowledge base for rational decision making. Science, however, supplies open-ended research and increases uncertainties. Turning the dilemma into an operational perspective, I suggest speaking of processes of real-world experimentation with waste. The transformation of waste from something to be ignored and disregarded into an epistemic object of concern is bound to experimenting with existing and newly designed waste sites as well as with socio-technical management systems. The study focuses on the development in Germany. Its general features, however, are characteristic for comparable industrial societies.