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


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August 8, 2019

This text, being an interview with an SF author, quite differs in its flow than a scholarly article. The following are some themes and topics that are of general interest to STS scholars:

  1. Boundaries/Transgressions: The interview is part of a special issue on SF and anthropology in which authors explore ways of thinking with forms of speculative fiction. In this interview, Robinson first discusses his influences in social sciences and humanities (primarily being science studies) and how his readings and background has affected his writing. Furthermore, he thoroughly discusses how SF's relations with science fact and his readership. His work, particularly his novels on planetary transformations has been inspiring people in STEM which,  like many other works of SF, creates 'transgressions' over assumed boundaries; i.e. science fiction/science fact, science fiction/science studies, etc.
  2. Planetary Transformations: Robinson has been writing quite a lot about our planet, climate futures, terraforming other planets, etc. The scientific and popular discourses on the future of our planet and the plausibility of moving beyond Earth being very current, the interviewers and Robinson discuss his writing and his views on certain issues including climate change and how to act on it, terraforming in our neighborhood the solar system, etc. 
  3. Science and Capitalism: In conjunction with the planet being at an impasse with the Anthropocene, Robinson discusses de-stranding science from capitalism, despite the two having emerged together. Some of his novels, for instance his Mars Trilogy, feature world-making experiments with how it would be possible to conduct science in non- or post-capitalist worlds.
  4. Storytelling and Textual Agency: In this interview, Robinson has provided a lot of insight into world-making and creative writing, from how he incorporates bodily experiences into his writing to how his novels "seize" him like dreams. Furthermore, he discusses the potentialities in his work being interpreted differently than what he intended.  
May 14, 2019

The main agenda of my study is to look into the correlation between labour and technology.  In this article, the author mainly focuses on the importance of technological determinism and how it becomes a mistake to equate determinism with progress.

                       I.            The normative technological determinism of Bimber, Misa and Hughes (). Equivalent to the idea of autonomous technology by Langdon Winer, "technology that has grown so big and so complex that it is no longer amenable to social control".

                    II.            The idea of technological momentum: A more mature understanding of the interplay between technology and society, gives a viable solution to understanding the labour process and market, where some are highly automated, some are complemented and yet some are not touched by 'modern' computational technology. According to the author, "technological momentum" as "a concept that can be located somewhere between the poles of technical determinism and social constructivism".

                 III.            Conceptualising the dialectical relationship of social shaping of technology and technological shaping of society. This gives a greater understanding of the impact of automation and upcoming trends or changes happening due to the interplay of labour and technological development.

May 14, 2019

       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

May 14, 2019

                   I.            The universal conception of human technological activity. A Better understanding of socio-technical system, by negating the overemphasis on necessity and other myths of standard view gives us a universal conception on human technological activities and helps us to understand the technologically mediated, socially coordinated labour and work". Once we do so, we can begin to construct hypothesis about the universals of human technology-universals that highlight what is distinctly human about activities as diverse as making stone tools and launching space vehicles".

                II.             Alternative epistemology towards technology: "The sociotechnical systems of the Machine Age do differ from its pre-industrial predecessors, but the Standard View grossly exaggerates these differences". For example historians of technology distinguishes these two binaries into a phase with the application of science and technology and other without it. But it is a fact that whatever modern society achieved as technology is not derived from the sciences. But the technology enhanced, codified and contributed to the organisation of science and its knowledge system ().

             III.            Social coordination of labour and secondary role of technology; various social factors such as rituals, beliefs, cultural meanings etc defines an artefact and its embedded technology.  The labour is influenced more by socio-economic factors than the technology.

May 14, 2019

       I.            The future theme on how robotics and artificial intelligence is modified to automate upon low skilled workers are pointed out in the study.  The last heaven for labour, as it is presumed according to polarisation theories, is also going to be automated in the future. The study of this theme will give the best understanding of how this process is happening. " A much-debated question is whether today’s non-routine labour tasks could soon be automated by ongoing advances in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI)—see Brynjolfsson and McAfee (2017)" ()

    II.            Labour and technological equilibrium, technology after an innovation tries to maintain equilibrium, and make stability to what it achieved, I want to look into what is the response of labour towards such actions and how they defend themselves in the process of automation and job loss.

 III.            This work gives glimpses of sub-theme such as uberization and its relation to ongoing technological progress. Will help me to navigate in the study of 'uberization, it helps to understand how technology attains equilibrium after the changes.

May 14, 2019

                   I.      How the Identity of poor, working class, black and women causes multiple disadvantages for a person automated welfare schemes, which are controlled by the governors, politicians and bureaucrats who like to put barriers upon ''claims' by this intersectional groups.

                II.      It is very interesting to understand how inequality is reproduced among the poor, through social profiling and policing or to keep distance or punish them. Human rights report on caste system across the globe reports about a certain section of Japanese society called Burakumin, who are excluded from the mainstream is still stigmatized by the members of so-called upper strata's using digitalized government records, census and kind of social security program numbers.  This kind of policing and profiling the poor shows the unholy alliance of those who govern and those who belong to upper classes.

             III.      The book is not exactly contributing to what we called as labour and Technology, but it gives us the picture of how welfare schemes, which are considered as positive discrimination embedded in the ideas of Social Justice, which are mostly availed by the working class and the poor. affects both work life and  outside life  of a worker


May 14, 2019

       I.            The holistic approach towards technology, labour, production and social structures such as state, political party, labour organizations etc. The author has never taken technology and its consequences(both positive and negative) out of the socio-political context. The wider implications of automation, technology are explained by quoting Carl Benedikt Frey, Thor Berger, and Chinchih Chen, considering whether the technological disruption is already feeding through into voting behaviour (2018). They argue that "electoral districts with a higher share of jobs exposed to automation are significantly and more likely to have supported Trump in the 2016 US presidential election, concluding that to ‘avoid further populist rebellion and a looming backlash against technology itself, governments must find ways of making the benefits from automation more widely shared ".

    II.            The second theme that can be contributive to the study of labour and technology is the emerging gig economy. In India, there is a greater boom of service sectors such as transportation under the gig economy. One such example is the uber eats, uber cabs etc, which made transportation and food delivery easier and cheaper in metro cities. There were several protests hoisted by the counterparts of uber and gig economy, who are doing the same job in a conventional way. Many of India's major cities witnessed the protest against uber cabs by conventional cab drivers.

 III.            The third contribution by this particular paper to the field is its exploration on the areas of how technology is used to control and manage the workforce on one hand and how the same mechanism implemented by technology is used by workers to counteract such control. The process of hiring, production, and monitoring are used to control workers whereas hiring implemented online enables more chance for workers with choices and speedy recovery from job loss. The changes in production relations help the worker with the easing of hectic works. The monitoring of work will be seen as a call for workers to organize themselves. It helps them to think about sabotaging the entire process, through what we refer to as everyday resistance or weapons of the weak (James Scott, )

May 14, 2019


         I.            Automation and impact upon middle range service sector jobs: The paper gives an idea about how labour is heterogeneous in the context of automation. It helps me for further studies upon service sectors, especially upon the software workforce and the anticipated effect of automation. It also draws insights upon how technology helps them through complementing the labour.

      II.             It is very interesting to have a look into the argument of job polarisation and how technology, as one among the causal factors to deprive the labour, their chance for better wage and opportunities to work.  The results may be different in different sections of labour, the author also argues that there are not many studies on how technology is mediating and complementing the jobs rather than substituting it. Hence this also should be looked into by future researchers.

   III.            The process of deskilling of labour (Braverman,) and its correlation to the technology should be examined thoroughly.  The impact of skill and its possession is one of the reasons led to the polarisation of jobs. The engagement of automation with different skill sets give different results. So it is better to study how manual skilling or low skilled is not automated but sent to countries like India and other third world nations under the branding of offshoring.  For example, the garment industry in Bengaluru is exporting the offshored business by multinational brands like Lewis, Arrow etc

May 13, 2019

 Technopreneurialism:  the importance given to entrepreneurs, especially expertise and innovators with business orientations is a new area of sociological enquiry in STS. For example, the South East Asian countries are reimaging development not on the basis of their annual GDP and its increase by production in industries, but through the successful operations in the knowledge economy.

Citizenship: this study contributes to the way how citizenship is viewed and understood in a technocratic society, where technology defines the economy and other social infrastructures and policy. This book gives a great example of how expertise in technological knowledge economy makes some superior citizens and others as secondary.  One of the good insight from the book is how certain kind of cultural biases such as racism, regionalism etc affects citizenship even in a knowledge economy based society and reproduces inequality and stereotypes.

 Knowledge economy: this directly derives from the Foucauldian understanding of knowledge as a power.  He gives an example of how royal societies of Europe and colonial institutions from the period of renaissance onwards created a hierarchical epitome, which outlasted any kind of alternative knowledge production and became the founding stone of capitalism.  The same issue is again surfaced in the case of the South East Asian economy, where the production of a certain kind of knowledge is discriminating a certain section of the population. For example, the popular culture does not give an account of  people who are working in sweatshops of India, whose labour become the reason for earning more foreign currency  than any other  and being the largest  second employer after agriculture, is becoming invisible in the discourses around so-called nation-building, this  due to our obsession with knowledge economy .


May 2, 2019

1) Mechanization of small scale works: the empirical study done by the author shows that how mechanization affected the job status, job availability etc in small industries such as electronics, garment sector. The future scholars can try to understand this direct impact of technology on a particular social class and what their reaction is and how they engage with it. It is also important to note that whether the technology is complementing the existing labour power or is it wiping out the labour force through the automation. The basic question is what the politics of technology in a workspace is and how workers reciprocate to it.

2) Comparison of the service sector and manufacturing industry: this comparative study helped us to crack the conventional belief of solely attaching service sector with technology and forgetting the manufacturing and other sectors as something primitive. One assumption put forward by the author is regarding the effect of technology in all sector irrespective of the way the technology is imagined in the labs. Further studies on how technology is affecting the conventional sector labour will help us to rethink about the relation between technology and labour.

3) Contradictions of globalization: other aspects scholars need to follow up is how the contradictions of globalization are related to the socio-technical imaginations in each society.  One of the few examples, some of the technology is implemented to make works easy and fast, but on the other hand, the excess workforce is accommodated through the service sector, which was again thinking about a networked society.