Changing Worlds – Ideologies, Utopias and Ambitions in Science and Technology


The latest issue of the Graduate Journal of Social Sciences (GJSS) has a strong focus on Science and Technology Studies (STS) topics. Its title “Changing Worlds” alludes to multiple meanings as not only are we changing the world – or worlds –, but they are simultaneously changing us, and are never stagnant in the first place. This issue (Volume 12, Issue 2 – April 2016) has been edited by a promising group of international STS scholars: Marlene Altenhofer (Institute for Advanced Studies, Austria), Leo Matteo Bachinger (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, US), Mercedes Pöll (University of Leeds, UK) and Boka En, Jasmin Engelhart, Victoria Neumann, Nikolaus Pöchhacker and Angela Prendl (all from University of Vienna), who managed to assemble an exciting and interdisciplinary range of papers.

To examine the interconnectedness of this field – particularly in its relations to science and technology, Altenhofer et al. claim, that “Science – as well as knowledges more generally – and technology have enormous impacts on the ways our societies are structured and function on an everyday level. […] this impact is both shaped by and, in turn, shapes the ideological foundations of these societies. Finally, it seems equally fair to say that the outcomes of particular technoscientific practices are not predetermined: knowledges and artefacts alike can both oppress and liberate.” (Altenhofer et al. 2016, 10)

The articles include views on “The Valuable Citizens of Smart Cities” (Olesya Benedikt), “Risks, norms and optimisation in self-quantifying practices (Boka En and Mercedes Pöll), or on “Digital ways of knowing and epistemic walks with methods-as-prototypes (Chiara Carrozza and Andrea Gaspar”. Asking for whom the world should be actually changed, Andrea Ida Malkah Klaura discusses some “Thoughts about trans*disciplinarity,
feminist epistemologies and Participatory Design.

In their article “Internet of Everyone – Tools for Empowerment” (pg 96–108) Tom Bieling, Tiago Martins and Gesche Joost approach participatory work from the angle of attempting to work towards greater inclusivity. “They argue that the concept and demands of diversity offer both challenges and opportunities particularly for designers, paying close attention to how different perspectives can be reflected in artefacts and design practices. Describing their experiments with designing for empowered interaction (including the participation of deaf-blind people in the design process), Bieling, Martins, and Joost argue that design should emphasise diversity and its strengths. Their Lorm Hand is a case in point for how attentive design of assistive technologies for deaf-blind individuals can emphasise talents and strengths rather than correcting ‘disabled’ or ‘handicapped’ bodies. Instead of taking for granted standardised, able-bodied users, the authors bring bodies with their different abilities into the focus of design. Equally an assistive device and outreach instrument for deaf-blind activists, the Lorm Hand becomes an interesting experiment for how design in society can become generative for societal change – particularly in regards to what can be accomplished through invitation and encouragement instead of adjustment and top-down intervention.” (Altenhofer et al. 2016, 12)

The whole Journal issue can be downloaded here.
The article mentioned above, can be downloaded here. 


Graduate Journal of Social Science April 2016, Vol. 12, Issue 2, pp. 96–107 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. ISSN: 1572–3763



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This entry was posted in accessible, activism, alternative communication, augmentative communication, deaf-blind, design project, design research, design study, disability studies, Diversity, Enhancement, Literature, STS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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