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Technology & the Social (Fischer, Latour)
· Read 2/23/2021
Check out first episode of BBS series, check out other Stellar links from last week
Putting out different conceptual frameworks/approaches to thinking about sociotechnical objects
Sociology students get practice adopting various theoretical hats
During TL's first semester at Berkeley, she took an urban sociology course with Fischer
"US documentaries frequently take a determinist and concrete viewpoint—their job is to simplify, not to render complexity"
Generally we all have a "theory of agency," even if we don't explicitly articulate them
Fischer's view of agency: We have choices, but within social and cultural constraints
The documentary has an interesting theory of human and technological agency
How Fischer critiqued others
Impact analysis: Mostly gives agency to people in power. "Kern's analysis also raises issues of evidence."
Symptomatic approaches: Life is messier, not homogenous; wrangling with large arcs of history
Methodological argument: what do you think counts as evidence?
Be reflective about causality
Critiques media studies figures: Raymond Williams, Joshua Meyerowitz
post hoc ergo propter hoc
Social constructivism takes production and adoption of technology into mind; what's missing is reception/audience studies
Marxism's false consciousness, misleading narrators, etc. vs. can we trust users as conscious, accurate?
Foreshadows recent scholarship on tech use in e.g. third-world countries
Media Lab at Sciences Po, documentary arm
Has had to mount defense of climate change since deniers have been using actor-network theory
Most recent publication: 2018 book
What's at stake?
"Object rights activist"
Hey sociologists, the "missing mass" you're looking for is right in front of you. Has a kind of humor, uses door as an tangible example
What about infrastructures, digital materiality?
Flat ontologies: are we going to give equal dues to non-humans?
How seriously will you take this idea? How (much) should we center our methods and theories around them?
"No human is as relentlessly moral as a machine" we tell them what ideals we want to hold ourselves to and they enforce them on us
Playful, evocative writing style
Part of our social assemblage, quite a provocation
Morality exists because previous human actors recognized a lack of consistency, a deviation from the moral path we wanted to walk, thus designing the non-human actors to reinforce this
Delegation, prescription, distribution of competences
Circuit between technology and humans
"As a person, he seems kinda like a jerk"
Humor reminiscent of 60s/70s British sci-fi writers, e.g. just woman cooking eggs in kitchen but it's sci-fi, she's being controlled by all the morally ambiguous machines around her