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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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Technologies of the Afterlife

The Agency of the Dead at Spanish Mass Grave Exhumations

Jonah S. Rubin

In August 2011, I attended the exhumation of Severiano Clemente González, conducted by the Forum for Memory in the Castilian town of La Toba, Guadalajara. Mr González was one of the over 130,000 civilian victims of the 1936–1939 Spanish Civil War and ensuing Franco dictatorship (1939–1975). Even after Spain’s democratic constitution in 1978, most families could not recover their loved ones, owing to an unofficial ‘Pact of Silence’ whereby major political actors agreed not to legislate, litigate or discuss the still controversial past in the public sphere (Encarnación 2014). Since 2000, however, civil society organisations such as the Forum for Memory and the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) have been leading a series of forensic exhumations – modelled after similar state-led interventions in Latin America, Southern and Eastern Europe (Ferrándiz 2010; Rubin 2014).

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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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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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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.

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Johannes Fedderke

The resurgence of interest in the determinants of economic growth through the vehicle of endogenous growth theory has brought with it new understanding of what underlies long term economic prosperity. In particular, the role of human capital as an important driver of technological change, and hence development, has emerged as a key factor.

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From Autonomous to Socially Conceived Technology

Toward a Causal, Intentional and Systematic Analysis of Interests and Elites in Public Technology Policy

Gunnar K.A. Njálsson

When administrative scientists look to the current scholarship surrounding the phenomenon of technological development, they will inevitably be forced to grapple not only with an entire battery of abstract theories portraying technological development as more or less socially determined or autonomous. These policy analysts will also be obliged to struggle with the daunting task of developing a coherent, causal, subject-oriented and systematic framework for describing, comparing and even creating public technology policies. Understanding the spectrum of theories available when examining public information technology policy development (hereafter IT-policy) from an administrative sciences perspective, including how these theories relate to each other and differ in nature, is paramount to any attempt to formulate such a systematic framework regarding the subject. Indeed, it is crucial in order to defend one’s choice of methodology.

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Laurel Hart, Pamela Lamb and Joshua Cader

Effectively engaging with technologies of nonviolence for girls and young women requires attention to systemic, symbolic, and everyday forms of violence online and offline, as well as to how power is broadly manifest. We draw from three different interdisciplinary perspectives and critical reflections to consider networked technologies and online communities in relation to nonviolence. We explore mentorship and subversive education through Neal Stephenson’s 1995 novel, The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, identity politics on Facebook in a reflective study of digital citizenship for queer girl visibility, and online grassroots community solutions in considering the social potential of online forums and solutions for online harassment. Our varied perspectives encounter contradictions, such as the need for access to and protection from diverse online communities, as a necessary consideration for developing policy and creating networked and community-based technologies of nonviolence. We conclude with five recommendations in a call to action.

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Giovanni Navarria

The technological revolution that began with the Arpanet in the late Sixties has changed the world we live in. The Internet and social media have improved our lives considerably, but the changes came in with a high-price tag attached: our freedom. We now live in a world in which technology has exponentially expanded the power of the State to keep tabs on its citizens (within and across borders). If we continue on this path, democracy as we know it is doomed. Yet the future is not as grey as it might look at first sight. The ubiquity of social media and smartphones and the increasing relevance of the Internet in everyday life have also drastically changed the impact-power of citizens in technologically advanced societies. Understanding these changes is to understand which shape democracy will take in the future.