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Working relations of technology production and use

Abstract

This paper explores the relevance of recent feminist reconstructions of objectivity for the development of alternative visions of technology production and use. I take as my starting place the working relations that make up the design and use of technical systems. Working relations are understood as networks or webs of connections that sustain the visible and invisible work required to construct coherent technologies and put them into use. I outline the boundaries that characterize current relations of development and use, and the boundary crossings required to transform them. Three contrasting premises for design-the view from nowhere, detached engagement, and located accountability — are taken to represent incommensurate alternatives for a politics of professional design. From the position of located accountability, I close by sketching aspects of what a feminist politics and associated practices of system development could be.

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I am deeply grateful to Phil Agre, Jeanette Blomberg, Andrew Clement, Mike Hales, Susan Newman, Leigh Star, Randy Trigg, and Ina Wagner for their careful readings and critical suggestions on earlier versions of this paper.

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Suchman, L. Working relations of technology production and use. Comput Supported Coop Work 2, 21–39 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00749282

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00749282

Key words

  • Design Practice
  • Feminist Epistemology
  • Social Boundaries
  • Systems Development
  • Work-oriented Design