Raqib Annotations

How will your own research build from, counter and compare with this text?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 7:21am

A broad understanding of how workers perceive technology as something new and trade unions as old structures are emerging from the technicist viewpoint. This article pinpoints the root of the problems and how it can be rectified through paradigms such as actor-network theory. This article also informs us about the correlation between technology and other factors such as gender, race, political economy and skills of labour. Ultimately the author gives a holistic picture of the relation between computation and nature of work, where he defines any new technology should be called as computation.

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Describe at least three of the text’s themes or topics that are of general interest to STS scholars.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 7:20am

       I.            Technology versus trade union;  traditional versus computing: The flexibility of related to neo Fordist computing changed industrial relations and strong demarcation on work roles, which trade unions use for organising, less viable(). The author argues that this does not mean that trade union have lost all its legitimacy and merit. But the previous work pattern of skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled workers in the Fordist organizational forms associated with the working class is losing power, it is clearly leading to the kind of polarisation of work. And most of the work which is not computerized or automated belongs to manual low skill jobs (David.H.Autor), which mostly belong to informal labour of society. It is a difficult process for trade unions to organize workers in an informal society (Bhowmik, 2011). As a researcher, it invokes interest in me to look at how trade unions organise or do their process of organising in this context of computation.

    II.            Gender and technology: Lamphere's studies of the clothing industry while discussing the impact of gender and computation upon the nature of work the author quotes the study of Lampher on the clothing industry. While discussing women's employment in the electronics industry, lampher draws attention to both the relatively higher wages and the lower levels of industrial security, health, and worker power through trade unions that women in new technology industries experience(). On the other hand, "Robotics and other forms of computer-based automation in production have potential for eliminating the salience of physical capacity at work and therefore for lessening gender differences"() this is an important theme to be studied particularly in the Indian context, where feminization of labour is taking place under globalization (), under this process, antithetical to above mentioned, women are getting low paid and works like in the bonded labour.

 III.            Degradation of the work and deskilling: the "Skill data indicate that computer-mediated jobs often involve as much substantive skill as the jobs they replace. However, the new jobs entail less formal recognition of skill and therefore fewer benefits, less self-esteem, etc. Even more likely, the new jobs undermine the effective power of older, collective working-class social forms such as trade unions, necessitating new forms of social power for class cultural reproduction. Long-term results have as much to do with class as with technology " it is an interesting  theme to look into the correlation of skill, technical education and techno-social paradigm

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What is the main argument, narrative and affect of this text?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 7:19am

The author strongly emphasises study upon differentiating of computing as a methodological tool or as a cultural act. His focus is mainly upon the area of how computation as a cultural act influences the nature of work and employment. The literature he focuses on is based on the critique of the technological revolution.  He believes that his ideas will contribute to the theories of actor-network theories regarding technology.

In his words, "In the future, more attention should be directed to the most general contexts of computing, those extending beyond organizational boundaries. The class, gender, racial/ethnic and international cultures in which individuals participate, and the way in which such cultures both encourage and limit the range of strategies available for human intervention, greatly influence the dynamics of information practice. A more mature study of computing as a cultural process will lead to more successful techniques for system development as well as the identification of social policies more conducive to humane information practices"

His also focuses upon how skill, one of the central idea defining the nature of work is influenced by computation or technological interventions. He uses the ideas and studies of Braverman () who came with the idea of 'deskilling 'in the industries as a result of technological advancement.  On the other hand, Autor's idea also is analogical to what Braverman () said. “The notion that new technology tends to undermine worker skill in the labour process was central to Braver man’s "degradation of work" thesis (17).”Deskilling" was a consequence of the way in which capitalists selecting technologies that reduced worker control in order to reduce workers' collective social power. Whether new technology deskills has been a primary focus of post-Braverman studies of work, especially of computing"

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Describe at least three ways that the main argument is supported.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 7:18am

As we already discussed, he is putting forward a new idea for analysis of computation called actor-network theory. The core of the article is why there is a need to have conceptual tools to understand computation, by discrediting the conventional technicist interpretation.

          i.            The author starts  his ideas through a preliminary step of critiquing  computer revolution, as an academician, he distances himself from the common sense hype given to computation as the only causal factor for social and  economic change,  on the other hand , he argues that it is the change in social and economic  processes impacts upon technology.

        ii.            The alternative theoretical paradigm proposed by the author gives an account of how new technology aka computation have a correlation with gender, race, political economy and skills rather than focusing on the nature of work. The overall understanding of these factors, either their stability or change gives a complete picture of change of the nature of work particularly and the society in general iii.            It is not the proposition of technology that must change, the society that a paradigm shift happens. It is the actor's need that defines such a situation and what technology should be implemented under sociocultural straining factors. The author further explains this as "Who cares whether computers are really changing society? The fact that employers think this is true means that they are more open to thinking about the way those information systems can affect organizational culture, which means more opportunities, like participatory design, for us anthropologists to have an impact"

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What is the main argument, narrative and affect of this text?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 7:17am

The author defines computing as equal to any new technology since most of the workplace technology is transformed into computation or usage of computers. There is a prevailing common sense logic which interprets this as an example of computer-based technology transforming the nature of work and how this change transforms the society. The main argument of the author is that this is a false understanding of technology and its correlation stems from a technicist perspective. He gives an alternative schema to understand any correlation between work and computing or technology.  This alternative analytical scheme is called the actor-network theory. By quoting Castell's argument that "new technology and change in political economy as the dual sources of the 'informational city,'() which he sees as the characteristic new spatial form" the author points to the interplay of other factors such as political economy, urbanism, gender etc in ' redefining the nature of work and thus bring change or transformation in the society 

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What three (or more) quotes capture the critical import of the text?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 7:13am

"[C]omputing studies" is a useful term with which to label the discourse that rejects technicist presumptions and attempts to encourage empirical research on computing and its social correlates. One must also distinguish anthropologists as who study computing as a cultural process (computing anthropology) from those who are mostly interested in computers as a tool or computing as a methodology in anthropology. This discourse has roots in various academic disciplines and national scholarships".

"[A]mong anthropologists who study computing culturally, some such as Pfaffenberger and I reject the computer revolution hypothesis"

"[T]he strong belief that computers more or less directly transform society is held in both overdeveloping and under developing nations This strong view is technicist: It assumes that social change is a consequence, not a cause, of technological change. While also a widely-held presumption, technician's limitations as an explanatory position are demonstrated by Noble (97), who shows how social processes impact computing before computing impacts society"

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