Scholarly Works, Science, Technology, and Society

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  • From citizen social science to citizen bureaucraft: an ecology of social justice activism in Singapore
    Haines, Monamie (SAGE Publications, 2024)
    This article theorizes citizen knowledge production from a non-Western, nonliberal locale by examining why social movement-oriented citizen science is not practiced in the soft authoritarian context of Singapore. While environmental injustice arguably does exist in the city-state, citizens and residents are nor responding by producing undone science. In fact, seldom does the environment, science, and technology figure as the object of activism, let alone social injustice claims. Drawing on interpretive documentary analysis of interviews, news reports and auto-ethnography, this article argues that science and technology are guarded by tacit “out-of-bound” markers—or OB markers that constitute the norms of acceptable criticism. These OB markers are socially maintained by, and coproduced alongside, the twinned practices of elitism and meritocracy in Singapore, where the academic elite constitute critical voices, and as such, must navigate their credibility and privilege with the state, thereby foreclosing more radical forms of activism. As a consequence, elite Singaporeans practice citizen social science in areas of the environment, race and migration. Further, I show their standards and practices of evidencing and scientific communication can be construed as ‘citizen bureaucraft,’ where they cite the state to hold a kintsugi mirror to injustices it perpetuates. This article describes an ecology of social justice activism centred on Singapore’s primarily Bangladeshi migrant construction workers during the pandemic to show how citizenship is coproduced with citizen knowledge production in more authoritarian contexts, and how the coercive state responds.
  • Performing Radical Vulnerability to Teach STS in Singapore
    Haines, Monamie (Society for Social Studies of Science, 2024)
  • The MOPR Saga and the Politics of Manipulation in U.S. Electricity Markets
    Breslau, Daniel (2023)
    Recent sociological literature treats market manipulation as a product of the interaction of innovative trading practices with activities of market policing. Its definition is not independent of the construction of devices to detect it, and regulatory means for sanctioning and correcting it. This paper builds on that work by analyzing the political process through which those devices, and market manipulation itself, are defined. It examines a protracted struggle to define a particular form of manipulation in wholesale electricity markets in the U.S. From 2006 to 2021, the definition of “buyer-side market power” and the preferred mechanism for detecting and mitigating this particular form of market manipulation, the Minimum Offer Pricing Rule (MOPR). Analyzing filings and orders in regulatory proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, internal documents tracing deliberations within PJM, the largest wholesale electricity market in the U.S., supplemented by interviews with regulators, stakeholders, and economic experts. This contention takes the form of a “valorization struggle,” in which actors with different relative endowments of the many types of properties wield what influence they have to shape the market rules in a way that will convert those holdings into sources of revenues and competitive advantages relative to other market participants. The successive redefinitions of this type of market manipulation, as coded in the instruments used to detect and mitigate it, track the evolving power relations within the field. The paper considers the ways that, in this case, the politics of market manipulation mediate the politics of climate.
  • Shared Networks: The Paths of Latin-Centric Indigenous Networks to a Pluriversal Internet
    Rosa, Fernanda R. (University of Illinois Libraries, 2021-09-15)
    This research paper examines the emergence of shared networks in Tseltal and Zapoteco communities in Chiapas and Oaxaca (Mexico): internet first mile signal-sharing practices that articulate interconnection infrastructure and coexistence values to extend the internet to areas where the services of existing larger internet service providers are unsatisfactory or unavailable. In the case studies analyzed, indigenous people become internet codesigners by infrastructuring for their own local networks and interconnecting to the global internet. The paper argues that a hybrid materializes at the level of network interconnection when comunalidad, or the way of these communities, supported by unlicensed frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, towers, radio antennas, houses rooftops, routers, and cables meet the values of the internet service providers and their policies. Shared networks are a result of what these arrangements both enact and constrain, and the evidence of vivid struggles of Latin-centric indigenous networks towards a pluriversal internet.
  • Pluralistic Collaboration in Science and Technology: Reviewing Knowledge Systems, Culture, Norms, and Work Styles
    Halfon, Saul E.; Sovacool, Benjamin (SAGE Publications, 2022-10-10)
    This paper challenges the language of “interdisciplinarity,” suggesting “pluralistic collaboration” as a better alternative. Interdisciplinarity, team science, and transdisciplinarity frame academic and problem-focused collaborations narrowly, overemphasizing epistemology, downplaying extra-disciplinary divides and nonacademic collaborators, and either ignoring or psychologizing individual-level phenomena. We first paint a picture of the tensions and divides that exist in pluralistic collaborations, in three dimensions—epistemic, cultural, and normative—using a series of literature reviews to simultaneously map and extend these dimensions. We then introduce and explore a fourth dimension—academic work styles. Individual level considerations of collaboration in the literature generally rely on psychological types. We explore what a more sociologically oriented approach to individual dynamics within collaborations would look like by identifying and exploring four general academic work styles: isolationist, imperialist, pragmatist, and pluralist. We conclude by emphasizing and reflecting on pluralistic collaboration. Pluralism exists along a range of dimensions, and pluralizing or homogenizing different dimensions (pluralizing pluralism) can produce diverse effects on the outcome of interdisciplinary collaboration. While we thus advocate for pluralism along a greater range of dimensions when addressing complex problems, we suggest that over-pluralization can be a problem.
  • Disabled Dimensionalities: Normative expectations' impacts on disabled perceptions and spatialities
    Blanchard, Enka; Shew, Ashley (OpenEdition, 2022)
    As humans, we are expected to interact as fully functional 3D manipulators who can observe, handle,and act in three spatial dimensions. This is how users are considered in the design of many products and spaces. Ableism often gives people the perception that disabled people are inferior at manipulating, imagining, and navigating the world. We contest this perception using both our own experiences as disabled manipulators and narratives from other disabled people that speak to this presumption as limited imagination and consideration. In this theoretical contribution, we analyze the consequences of ableism in how spaces — digital, physical, imaginary in science fiction, present in practice and material configuration — operate in the way we think about the material and virtual world.
  • How To Get A Story Wrong: Technoableism, Simulation, and Cyborg Resistance
    Shew, Ashley (2022-03)
    For this paper, I will first share with you what we take to be the wrong stories out there about disability - narrative arcs we’ve inherited from tropes through various media as well as highlight the dangers of disability simulation to address these. Next, I’ll talk about better stories, more authentic narratives we might give about technology and about disability. Third, I’ll talk about social responsibility in the context of disability narrative, before ending by talking about cyborg-cripborg-disability expertise and knowledge with a reflection on cyborg expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The invention of the “underclass”: a study in the politics of knowledge [Book review]
    Breslau, Daniel (Routledge, 2023-01-04)
    A book review of The invention of the “underclass”: a study in the politics of knowledge, by Loïc Wacquant (Polity, 2022).
  • From community networks to shared networks: the paths of Latin-Centric Indigenous networks to a pluriversal internet
    Rosa, Fernanda R. (Routledge, 2022-07)
    This article examines, with ethnographic lenses, the emergence of shared networks in the Tseltal and Zapoteco communities in Chiapas and Oaxaca (Mexico). 'Shared networks' are first-mile signal-sharing practices that articulate interconnection infrastructure and values of coexistence to, in the cases studied, extend the internet to areas where the services of existing larger internet service providers are unsatisfactory or unavailable. It argues that by infrastructuring their own local networks and interconnecting to the global internet, Tseltal and Zapoteco people are effectively internet codesigners, building Latin-Centric Indigenous networks and shaping internet governance from below. When comunalidad values, supported by unlicensed frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, towers, radio antennas, houses' rooftops, routers, and cables, intersect with the values of the internet service providers and their policies, hybrids emerge. Shared networks are a result of what these hybrids enact and constrain, as well as evidence of the vivid struggles for a more inclusive and pluriversal internet.
  • Code Ethnography and the Materiality of Power in Internet Governance
    Rosa, Fernanda R. (Springer, 2022-09)
    The purpose of this article is to discuss an ethnography of code, specifically code ethnography, a method for examining code as a socio-technical actor, considering its social, political, and economic dynamics in the context of digital infrastructures. While it can be applied to any code, the article presents the results of code ethnography application in the study of internet interconnection dynamics, having the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) as code and two of the largest internet exchange points (IXPs) in the world as points of data collection, DE-CIX Frankfurt, and IX.br Sao Paulo. The results show inequalities in the flows of information between the global North and the global South and concentration of power at the level of interconnection infrastructure hitherto unknown in the context of the political economy of the internet. Code ethnography is explained in terms of code assemblage, code literacy, and code materiality. It demonstrates the grammar of BGP in context, making its logical and physical dimensions visible in the analysis of the formation of giant internet nodes and infrastructural interdependencies in the circulation information infrastructure of the internet.
  • Aesthetics of Otherness: Representation of #migrantcaravan and #caravanamigrante on Instagram
    Rosa, Fernanda R.; Soto-Vasquez, Arthur D. (Sage, 2022-01)
    This article examines the representation of the migrant caravan on Instagram showing how an aesthetics of otherness has prevailed in this representation. Aesthetics of otherness is the result of the interaction between platform users' selections and platform affordances that creates a gap between the marginalized other and the user. Based on a qualitative content analysis of posts with the hashtags #caravanamigrante and #migrantcaravan, this research reveals that the two hashtags form parallel, although not alike, communicative spaces where migrant caravan representation is mostly mediated by professionals and organizations interested in promoting their own work and not by the migrants themselves. Despite this trend, users posting with #caravanamigrante were less likely to hijack the intent of the public, more likely to reference reasons for migration, and overall less likely to employ the aesthetics of otherness, which point to the possibility of circumventing the role of the platform in shaping the representation of marginalized people and social justice movements.
  • Made in Brazil: Conspiracy Theory and the Flow of Information in One-to-One Whatsapp Conversations
    Rosa, Fernanda R. (Universidade Federal da Bahia, 2021-10-21)
    This essay aims to shed light on the multiple and complex ways that information flows among individuals in times of intense use of digital platforms. Based on actor-network theory, it unveils largely unknown communication processes about the controversial death of the Brazilian Supreme Court Justice, Teori Zavascki in 2017 that occurred in closed conversations in which the author was part. Analyzing primary data, the essay discusses the signs of authority that allow for non-verified or fiction pieces to circulate as if they were news pieces, enabling conspiracy theories to take form. The essay defends that mutual responsibility in building the narrative with peers within a likeminded groups, and “translation” processes in which sender and information merge their characteristics to create trust are important factors to understand this phenomenon. Furthermore, in discussing news as cultural artifacts, the essay also raises reflections of the limits of framing this phenomenon as fake news, which artificially oppose what is “real” and “fake” disregarding cultural dynamics at stake.
  • Internet interconnection infrastructure: lessons from the global South
    Rosa, Fernanda R. (Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, 2021-11-02)
    This article examines the formation of the first internet exchange point (IXP) in Mexico amid the implementation of telecommunication reforms and asymmetric regulations in a market with low level of competition. An IXP is defined as a shared interconnection facility and a key internet governance arena where players with myriad goals and functions mesh in interlaced technical and political dynamics. The study shows how data centres, passive infrastructure and autonomous system numbers play a critical role that stand out in the context of lack of infrastructure in Mexico. The paper argues that the challenges for an IXP to become stable in such a context in the global South is a result of IXP imagined affordances and the way that infrastructure, the telecommunications incumbent, its competitors, the state regulator, and the IXP operator interact, keeping the initiative in a fragile equilibrium.
  • GAFA's information infrastructure distribution: Interconnection dynamics in the global North versus global South
    Rosa, Fernanda R.; Hauge, Janice A. (Wiley, 2021-12-14)
    We analyze public points of interconnection of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple (GAFA) in the global North versus the global South to determine the degree to which their location preferences differ, if at all. We find that there is a statistically significant difference in GAFA locating in the global North versus the global South—a difference based on a country's wealth, specifically as given by per capita GNI. Approximately 38% of countries classified as global North have a GAFA public point of interconnection, while 16% of those classified as global South do. Apple has approximately 92% of its presence in the global North, followed by Amazon (82.5%), Facebook (73%), and Google (72%). Our findings suggest that competition and antitrust policy discussions of digital platforms should include information on the dynamics of interconnection infrastructure distribution, and for that, such information must be available. We also assert that a global consideration of the digital platforms market is necessary.
  • A Transdisciplinary Approach to Address Climate Change Adaptation for Human Health and Well-Being in Africa
    Wright, Caradee Yael; Moore, Candice Eleanor; Chersich, Matthew; Hester, Rebecca; Nayna Schwerdtle, Patricia; Mbayo, Guy Kakumbi; Akong, Charles Ndika; Butler, Colin D. (MDPI, 2021-04-17)
    The health sector response to dealing with the impacts of climate change on human health, whether mitigative or adaptive, is influenced by multiple factors and necessitates creative approaches drawing on resources across multiple sectors. This short communication presents the context in which adaptation to protect human health has been addressed to date and argues for a holistic, transdisciplinary, multisectoral and systems approach going forward. Such a novel health-climate approach requires broad thinking regarding geographies, ecologies and socio-economic policies, and demands that one prioritises services for vulnerable populations at higher risk. Actions to engage more sectors and systems in comprehensive health-climate governance are identified. Much like the World Health Organization’s ‘Health in All Policies’ approach, one should think health governance and climate change together in a transnational framework as a matter not only of health promotion and disease prevention, but of population security. In an African context, there is a need for continued cross-border efforts, through partnerships, blending climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, and long-term international financing, to contribute towards meeting sustainable development imperatives.
  • Exposing the myths of household water insecurity in the global north: A critical review
    Meehan, Katie; Jepson, Wendy; Harris, Leila M.; Wutich, Amber; Beresford, Melissa; Fencl, Amanda; London, Jonathan; Pierce, Gregory; Radonic, Lucero; Wells, Christian; Wilson, Nicole J.; Adams, Ellis Adjei; Arsenault, Rachel; Brewis, Alexandra; Harrington, Victoria; Lambrinidou, Yanna; McGregor, Deborah; Patrick, Robert; Pauli, Benjamin; Pearson, Amber L.; Shah, Sameer; Splichalova, Dacotah; Workman, Cassandra; Young, Sera (2020-11)
    Safe and secure water is a cornerstone of modern life in the global North. This article critically examines a set of prevalent myths about household water in high-income countries, with a focus on Canada and the United States. Taking a relational approach, we argue that household water insecurity is a product of institutionalized structures and power, manifests unevenly through space and time, and is reproduced in places we tend to assume are the most water-secure in the world. We first briefly introduce "modern water" and the modern infrastructural ideal, a highly influential set of ideas that have shaped household water provision and infrastructure development over the past two centuries. Against this backdrop, we consolidate evidence to disrupt a set of narratives about water in high-income countries: the notion that water access is universal, clean, affordable, trustworthy, and uniformly or equitably governed. We identify five thematic areas of future research to delineate an agenda for advancing scholarship and action-including challenges of legal and regulatory regimes, the housing-water nexus, water affordability, and water quality and contamination. Data gaps underpin the experiences of household water insecurity. Taken together, our review of water security for households in high-income countries provides a conceptual map to direct critical research in this area for the coming years. This article is categorized under: Human Water > Human Water
  • Using Timeline Methodology to Visualize Treatment Trajectories of Youth and Young Adults Following Inpatient Opioid Treatment
    Monico, Laura B.; Ludwig, Ariel; Lertch, Elizabeth; Mitchell, Shannon Gwin (2020-10-28)
    While the use of visual methods in qualitative research is gaining recognition, there has been less attention to timelines. This paper addresses this gap and contributes to the overall literature on qualitative research design and analysis. In a randomized trial of extended release naltrexone for youth with opioid use disorder timelines were used as a part of the semi-structured interview process. Timelines were constructed in a participatory manner in which both youth and their caregivers were separately asked to recount significant events related to substance use, treatment, and criminal justice involvement that took place between interview time points. This paper suggests that using timelines in qualitative, substance use research offers two main advantages: 1) improving the data collection process, and 2) advancing understandings of temporally contextualized narratives through a visual format. Here, timelines were an integral tool for summarizing and illustrating the complexity of youths' experiences following residential drug treatment.