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The Social Construction of Domestic Computer Technology.

Busfield, Robert. (2000) The Social Construction of Domestic Computer Technology. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

This report focuses on the meanings and attitudes individuals and households have toward home computers and questions accounts that stress technological determinism. In contrast it is argued that households actively construct, through the attitudes and perceptions of their members, the capabilities of the technology and any effects they might be said to have. The thesis sets out to apply contemporary theories of technology to domestic computer ownership and use. Fieldwork involved a combination of questionnaires, diaries and detailed interviews conducted with a group of households in the London borough of Wandsworth. Subsequent research was conducted as part of an initiative to improve the computer skills of a group of voluntary workers in Southwest London. Beginning with a survey of theories that seek to define the relationship between technology and society, this report examines many key themes that are understood to underlie households' relationship with technology. Chapters deal with the adoption of computer technology and the extent to which these represent wider household and individual strategies. The use of home computers for both leisure and productive purposes is examined. Attention is also focussed on the meanings that household members give to these activities, particularly perceptions that the technology possesses moral characteristics. It is argued that there are observable gendered differences in how computers are perceived and used but that these identities are by no means inevitable or natural but rather emerge through the mutual construction of 'social' and 'technological' networks. Computers are also one resource household's draw upon to mediate boundaries with the external world. In this sense they are 'boundary objects', they provide an interface with social spheres outside of the home. It is argued that both computers and households possess biographies that are a product of their respective actor-networks. Computers do not enter households as unproblematic technologies rather they are 'enrolled' into households; that is work is done in terms of locating the computer in the existing economic, technological and moral network of the household. The computer then takes different forms within different households. However, as new technologies are introduced the biography and identity of the household will also alter as a result of this process.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Busfield, Robert.
Date : 2000
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2000.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 30 Apr 2019 08:07
Last Modified : 20 Aug 2019 15:32
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/851185

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