At the 4S Annual Meeting, 6-9 October, a number of TiP-sters will present! The conference is framed under the theme of “good relations” posing the following question:
What does it mean in practice to strive towards good relations as humans, with technologies, in our modes of knowing, within environments, across distance, and with other-than-humans?
When we speak of good relations, we address ethics of care, frameworks of responsibility, and solidarity that span disciplinary and subject boundaries. We invite these reflections in relationship to the insurgence of white supremacy, the intensity of grief, and continuing struggles against long standing oppressions at personal and structural scales.
The following presentations from TiP can be found at the conference.
STS Pedagogies in Higher Education Teacher Development: An Interdisciplinary Proposal from IT Design and Law
Panel: Challenges of -and Opportunities for – STS Undergraduate Programs, Teaching and Education
Fri, October 8, 5:00 to 6:30pm EDT. Virtual, 16
In-service higher education (HE) teachers face increasing challenges concerning the presence of digital technologies in teaching, as they need to expand their knowledge and competencies constantly and experience complex shifts in their professional identities. However, teacher professional development is often focused on educational technologies (e.g. tools and platforms) and it does not enable reflection on how production of academic knowledge is entangled with everyday pedagogical experiences, ways of being and doing.
In this paper, we present a course-concept for HE teachers’ professional development which attempts to address STS issues such as the profound intertwinement between technology and society and the mutual configuration of multiple knowledges and practices.
The project, named Teknosofikum, is funded by the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science and developed collaboratively by four Danish institutions: IT University of Copenhagen, Royal Danish Academy of Architecture, Design and Conservation, University of Copenhagen – Faculty of Law, and Design School Kolding, between 2020 and 2023. Through a design-based research methodology in three iterations, Teknosofikum presents cases and scenarios from the disciplinary fields of Design, Information Technology and Law, with the aim to make them relevant for other academic fields. In this paper, we draw on data from the project first iteration, including curriculum design, prototype content development, and first trial with 45 course participants from the four institutions. A critical relational pedagogy is used as a frame for the learning activities design, based on the tradition of critical theory and the relational perspectives informed by STS and sociomaterial feminist studies.
Anne-Sofie Lautrup Sørensen
Facutualities of carbon data and imaginaries of oil in Stavanger, Norway
Panel: Changing Terrains of Carbon and Climate
Fri, October 8, 8:00 to 9:30am EDT 4S 2021 Virtual, 4
From climate models to carbon budgets and carbon footprints, carbon data figures increasingly as a material in social and political life. This paper explores the role of carbon data in local understandings of Norwegian oil and gas production and carbon data’s position in negotiations over low-carbon futures.
The paper draws on ethnographic fieldwork in the Norwegian oil-capital Stavanger among young climate activists and people working in the oil and gas sector. Stavanger is an especially interesting case: inhabitants are acutely aware of the destructive consequences of the oil and gas industry for the global climate, while oil and gas make up the foundation of the local labor market and the finances of the national welfare state. Furthermore, in the relatively small city of Stavanger, activists and industry people often share social ties of friendship or family.
The paper shows how carbon data is emically constructed as a fact that can be mobilized in a fact- and datacentric debate over the future of the oil industry. In conversation with scholarship on sociotechnical imaginaries (Jasanoff and Kim 2015; McNeil et al. 2017) the paper argues that differing imaginaries of oil play into how youth and industry people respectively understand, interpret and use carbon data as fact. Through an engagement with Michelle Murphy’s (2006) work on regimes of perceptibility the paper puts these findings in conversation with questions about the different types of knowledge that are at stake when living with the local multiplicity of the climate crisis in an oil city.
Barbara Nino Carreras
(Digital) Welfare for All? Disabled People and their Relatives as Participants and Non-Users in Denmark’s Digital State
Panel: Digital Inclusion In Practices
Wed, October 6, 11:30am to 1:00pm EDT 4S 2021 Virtual, 17
Statistics seem to confirm that Denmark’s digital welfare is a success because most citizens use public digital self-services. Yet, a new disability rights movement called #enmillionstemmer (#onemillionvotes) seems to disrupt such reality. Despite inclusion initiatives performed by the Agency for Digitization, disabled people and their relatives’ rights do not seem to be sufficiently covered. The movement, initiated in 2019, indicates that welfare provision for disabled people and their relatives is insufficient and oppressive. In recent years, scholars have unfolded patterns of exclusion in the mandatory digitalization of welfare services. The participation of disabled people and their relatives in protecting their rights in recent digital reforms of the public sector is widely under-examined. This paper takes on an ethnographic approach and draws from Adele Clarke’s situational analysis to explore a mix of archival materials and interviews that compare #onemillionvotes’ motivations, and inclusion initiatives performed by the Agency for Digitization. The paper questions whether the public sector’s mandatory digitalization excludes disabled people and their relatives in participating in what constitutes equal and sufficient (digital) welfare. Building on literature from disability studies, participatory design, and feminist STS, the paper critically maps out user research and the agency’s participatory methods. The paper problematizes user research and inclusion strategies that understand disabled people as non-digital citizens. Finally, the paper speculates on participatory methods, where disabled people and their relatives lead and participate in how they are supported as users of public services, that are not always digital.
Encounters with Failure in STS I and Encounters with Failure II (Panel)
co-organised by Jessamy Perriam and Katrine Meldgaard Kjær
Wed, October 6, 8:00 to 9:30am EDT (2:00 to 3:30pm CEST), 4S 2021 Virtual, 3
Science and Technology Studies has long focused on how knowledge is made and how publics are then enrolled in it. However, these past studies have often focused on successful articulations of knowledge; we argue that what is left behind, discarded or disputed is just as generative and important to research. While not exhaustive, these may include failures in policy, failures of pilot schemes or mundane failures in everyday life. Moreover, failure also occurs in relation to research processes. In research we can, for example, encounter absences in our data where perhaps we expected it to be. This can in turn make us unable to narrate and analyse the processes that enrol publics in the various failures that stand in relief to what becomes successful. What methods might exist or be developed to help discuss and analyse failure in the face of absent data, missing voices and actors for whatever reason we struggle to follow?
This panel is primarily focused on the methods involved in researching failure or doing research in the face of failure or absence. As such, we invite papers that deal with one or both of these areas. We also welcome papers with a focus on digital methods or inventive methods. Due to the subject of the panel, we also encourage papers which reflect research projects at different stages of the research process. This panel aims to start and progress conversations amongst researchers about how conduct studies amongst failures and absences.
Fostering Flexibility or Promoting Precarity? Digital Labor Platforms and the Danish Welfare State
Panel: Labor 4.0: Algorithmic Management, Working Conditions, Experiences and Actions of Organization and Resistance
Thu, October 7, 1:20 to 2:50pm EDT (7:20 to 8:50pm CEST), 4S 2021 Virtual, 15
Algorithmic management of digital labor platforms and workers’ practices to regain control of their autonomy have produced a growing literature on the “gig economy” in recent years. Despite much attention paid to ridehailing and crowdwork platforms, research work on, the less tech-intensive, housecleaning platforms is limited. The state-supported sociotechnical imaginary (Jasanoff 2015) of the platform economy in Denmark is promoted as offering opportunities to businesses and consumers. Platforms operate largely uncontrolled in terms of employment relations, tax issues, algorithmic transparency, and social dumping conditions. Nevertheless, many workers sign up to them either pursuing -what they term as- more flexible working arrangements or enduring and potentially resisting precarious employment. This paper investigates relations and practices in the Danish housecleaning platform economy, which is characterized by a proliferation of female, young, migrant workers of predominantly Latin-American origin. It engages ethnographically with platform housecleaners aspiring to analyze perceptions that are articulated from below, on both the nature of flexible/precarious working conditions and the role of technology in their consolidation. This study is not limited to platform and app-related features (such as rating, surveillance, algorithm-produced suggestions for customers, profile uploading etc.) but also aims to scrutinize how the Danish digitalized welfare state’s policies and infrastructure potentially contribute to workers’ insecurity. This paper claims that the double evolution towards an individualization of risk for workers and an individualization of social problems promoted by contemporary digital welfare states creates the adequate political ecology for the proliferation of platform work, within an environment of structured uncertainty.
Co-Speculating Business Sustainability across Ontological Difference
Panel: Re-thinking and Experimenting with Participatory Research Practices and Design Through the Speculative and Ontological Turn II
Fri, October 8, 9:40 to 11:10am EDT (3:40 to 5:10pm CEST), 4S 2021 Virtual, 8
This paper explores the potentials of co-speculation for creating effective data infrastructures to address business sustainability. It is based on a developing research project in Denmark to design, create and populate a database which will track corporate sustainability efforts. The paper provides an initial analysis of sustainability efforts in the Danish corporate sector, informed by the perspectives of the ontological turn, to suggest that it’s understanding of climate change differs ontologically from that of many other actors in the climate field (such as researchers, activists, politicians, etc). The paper argues that given the importance of corporations in contributing to the ongoing climate crises, creating a successful data infrastructure detailing their sustainability efforts is crucial to efforts to research their (lack of) transition and create popular pressure on them to increase their pace, yet requires their participation to be most effective. To bridge the ontological difference between actors and facilitate such participation, the paper suggests experimentation with co-speculation. Concretely, the paper suggests and explores the creation of several workshops to facilitate the co-speculative design of the data infrastructure itself, as a means to turn business sustainability into a matter of concern shared by different kinds of actors. Co-speculation here means, following Donna Haraway, engaging materially in speculative fabulation of the concrete form, content, metrics and means of access of the proposed data infrastructure itself. It also means the creation of relations between actors through collaborative speculation on different possibilities and futures.
Big Data Policing in Denmark: The Case of Pol-Intel
Panel Technologies of Policing: Policing as Technology
Sat, October 9, 5:00 to 6:30pm EDT 4S 2021 Virtual, 22
Pol-Intel is a big data analysis policing software, developed by the American company Palantir, and used by the Danish National Police, for the purpose of “compiling, visualizing and analyzing data” and performing “operational and strategic analyses based on data from multiple data sources”. Advertised simultaneously and in a somewhat contradictory manner, as a “super-weapon”, as well as “simply an interface”, Pol-Intel was conceived as part of the Danish Police’s response to the 2015 Copenhagen shootings, following the international trend of the shift towards Intelligence Led Policing.
This paper will present and discuss the initial findings of a research project that examines the use of Pol-Intel by the Danish Police, and the ways in which it has impacted police work in the Danish context. As Covid related restrictions have been an obstacle for the initial plan of conducting non-participant observation of the software at play, the paper will be based on a series of online interviews with Police officers and executives. The empirical focus of the paper will be on the effect of the visualizations that the software produces, their impact on Police investigations and allocation of resources, as well as issues of data privacy and user accountability.
Stefan Laser, Paula Marie Helm, Laura Kocksch, Ingmar Lippert, Julie Sascia Mewes, Estrid Sørensen
stsing: Doing STS In, Through And Beyond the German Academic System
On Panel: Transnational and Transgenerational STS: Collaborations, Methods and Pedagogies
Sat, October 9, 11:30am to 1:00pm EDT 4S 2021 Virtual, 3
With this presentation, we introduce the recently constituted association “stsing”, which offers scholars a new platform to “do” STS in and through Germany (therefore the wording “stsing”). Specific about this platform is its attempt at creative and open understanding of collaboration on the one hand and critical reflection of national, international, institutional, and intergenerational challenges of STS research on the other. Germany’s specific funding and institutional structure is of central importance to stsing. Still, stsing is responding to the internationally integrated practices of STS. It addresses the frictions between local bureaucracies and hierarchies as well as global doings and (self-)understandings of STS.
We briefly unfold the (hi)story of stsing: a process of negotiating imaginaries, institutional settings, conflicts and mutual recognition. The challenge is to open spaces and account for the heterogeneous people and disciplines engaged with the ideas, methodologies and politics of STS. stsing experiments with digital as well as analogue infrastructures of assembly that account for a “bubble-like” structure. It draws on thematic “working groups” and regional “table rounds”, engages with digital platforms and explores non-proprietary software options. An experimental form of associat(ing) then faces multiple challenges. We focus on one example: intergenerational matters of the academic system and the distribution of resources. Here, stsing aims for a non-hierarchical setup while reflecting on the institutional architectures that set the terms on which we operate (regarding career steps, thought schools, modes of recognition, etc.).