22 November 2023

TIME Excellence Lecture

TIME Excellence Lecture

Please join us for a webinar on Tuesday the 28th of November 2023 at 7:00 Athens time. The speaker is Kean Birch, York University, Canada. The title of the talk is “Do Artefacts Have Political Economy?".

This webinar is free and open to all. The moderator is Dr. Andreas Panagopoulos. 

Join Zoom:
Meeting ID: 964 7954 1729
Passcode: 123123


Abstract: Harking back to Langdon Winner’s now classic article, ‘Do artifacts have politics?’, my aim in this paper/talk is to ask a very similar question – namely, do artefacts have political economy? Winner’s original contention was to examine the politics inherent within things, without resorting to simplistic technological determinism. He outlined two cases: first, artefacts can be designed in ways that advantage some and disadvantage others; and second, artefacts can be “strongly compatible with particular kinds of political relationships”. In asking my follow up question, I outline exemplary cases of where artefacts: (1) have been designed for certain political economies; or (2) are compatible with particular political economies. I illustrate the former using Winner’s own example; that is, Robert Moses design of bridges in New York City in the early 20thcentury. In turning to the latter, I seek to illustrate, like Winner, astrongandweakversion of this claim by outlining artefacts that require a particular political economy (strong version) and artefacts that compatible with a particular political economy (weak version). I use the example of advanced biofuels and artificial intelligence respectively to illustrate these two versions. Finally, I use this analysis to present the case for a specificallyconstructivist political economy, sitting at the interface between science and technology studies and critical political economy.

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