, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 877–888 | Cite as

Limiting the discourse of computer and robot anthropomorphism in a research group

  • Matthew J. CousineauEmail author
Open Forum


Social science research on the anthropomorphisms of computers and robots has been devoted to studying intellectual anthropomorphism, emotional anthropomorphism, bodily anthropomorphism, and the limits of computer and robot anthropomorphism. Although these represent important patterns for studying the anthropomorphisms of computers and robots, there are other important patterns. The limitation of anthropomorphism is one of these patterns. The limitation of anthropomorphism is a discursive practice which places limits on anthropomorphism. Discursive practices are interactional and practical activities for making sense of who and what we encounter. In this article, I analyze the limitation of anthropomorphism as another important activity to investigate. Drawing on an ethnographic study of a robotics research group, I show the importance of the limitation of anthropomorphism by documenting how it contributes to research group identity. In the final section, I describe some implications for future studies of the anthropomorphisms of computers and robots.


Anthropomorphism Identity Robots Computers 



The ethnographic research reported in this article was supported by the University of Missouri Department of Sociology, and the University of Missouri Graduate School. In addition, I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers who helped improve the manuscript and the members of EARL for their generosity.


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© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, Haley Center 7022Auburn UniversityAuburnUSA

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