On the Peculiarity of Standards: A Reply to Thompson
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
As Paul B. Thompson suggests in his recent seminal paper, “‘There’s an App for That’: Technical Standards and Commodification by Technological Means,” technical standards restructure property (and other social) relations. He concludes with the claim that the development of technical standards of commodification can serve purposes with bad effects such as “the rise of the factory system and the deskilling of work” or progressive effects such as how “technical standards for animal welfare… discipline the unwanted consequences of market forces.” In this reply, we want to append several points to his argument and suggest that he rightly points out that standards can promote various goods; however, there are peculiar powers wielded by standardization processes that might profitably be unpacked more systematically than Thompson's article seems to suggest. First, the concealment of the technopolitics around standards is largely due to their peculiar ontological status as recipes for reality. Second, technical standards can and do commit violence against persons, but such violence is often suffered not in the formation of class consciousness, as Marx might have put it, but as a failure to conform to the laws of nature.
- Augé, M. (1986). Un Ethnologue dans le Metro. Paris, France: Hachette.
- Bain, C. (2010). Structuring the Flexible and Feminized Labor Market: GlobalGAP Standards for Agricultural Labor in Chile. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 35(2), 343–370. CrossRef
- Bowker, G. C., & Star, S. L. (1999). Sorting things out: classification and its consequences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Busch, L. (2011). Standards: recipes for reality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Coles, J. V. (1932). Standardization of consumers' goods: an aid to consumer-buying. New York: Ronald Press.
- Dreger, A. D. (1998). Hermaphrodites and the medical invention of sex. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Epstein, S. (2007). Inclusion: the politics of difference in medical research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Evans, J., Rich, E., Davies, B., & Allwood, R. (2008). Education, disordered eating and obesity discourse. Oxon: Routledge.
- Heidegger, M. (1977). The question concerning technology and other essays. New York: Harper and Row.
- Hill, L. (1990). Grain grades and standards: historical issues shaping the future. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
- Hoover, H. (1937 ). “Moral standards in an industrial era.” In R. Wilbur, A. Hyde (Eds.) The Hoover Policies (pp. 300–305). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
- Hoyt, H. (1919). Standardization and its relation to industrial concentration. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 82, 271–277. CrossRef
- Hudson, R. (1928). Organized effort in simplification. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 137, 1–8. CrossRef
- Kula, W. (1986). Measures and men. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Loya, T., & Boli, J. (1999). Standardization in the World Polity: Technical Rationality over Power. In J. Boli & G. Thomas (Eds.), Constructing World Culture: International Nongovernmental Organizations since 1875 (pp. 169–197). Stanford: Stanford Unversity Press.
- Mol, A. (2002). The body multiple. Durham: Duke University Press.
- National Industrial Conference Board. (1929). Industrial standardization. New York: National Industrial Conference Board.
- Office of Technology Assessment. (1992). Global standards: building blocks for the future. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.
- Pargman, D., & Palme, J. (2009). ASCII Imperialism. In M. Lampland & S. L. Star (Eds.), Standards and their stories: how quantifying, classifying, and formalizing practices shape everyday life (pp. 177–199). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
- Perry, J. (1955). The story of standards. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company.
- Russell, A. (2005). Standardization in history: a review essay with an eye to the future. In S. Bolin (Ed.), The standards edge: future generations (pp. 247–260). Ann Arbor, MI: Sheridan Press.
- Thompson, P. B. (2011). “There’s an app for that”: technical standards and commodification by technological means. Philosophy & Technology. doi:10.1007/s13347-011-0029-4.
- Veblen, T. (1904). The theory of business enterprise. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
- On the Peculiarity of Standards: A Reply to Thompson
Philosophy & Technology
Volume 25, Issue 2 , pp 243-248
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Network power
- Technology ethics