Mobilising the Socio-technical

I have recently had to present the main themes of my project at a post-graduate conference. I have thus formed some notes towards defining my project, what follows is the abstract to my presentations, which I gave under the title: Mobilising the Socio-technical: The cultural politics of mobile communications technologies.

The aim of my project is to address the manner and extent to which mobile communications technologies ‘socialise’ or have been ‘socialised’. Understandings of space are ceaselessly being refigured and yet the socio-technical plays an increasing role in that refiguration through its arguably ever more complex enrolment. The meteoric rise of mobile communications technologies has significantly effected not only our technical mediation but also on our linguistic mediation of society and space. This provokes interesting cultural-political questions. As feelings of novelty, and perhaps naivety, towards the increasingly mobile aspects of socio-technical life shift, the meanings of the vocabulary employed in their description are becoming yet more opaque. The metaphors used to familiarise the rapid developments in socio-technical life waver in their descriptive purchase. In this thesis I hope to attend to the spatio-cultural politics inherent to this contemporary socio-technical development. The status of the subject is questioned by the reflexivity of the ‘socialisation’ of people and things and their combinatory variety within the threefold of the human, non-human and the technical. Of particular interest, therefore, are new, and reconceived, types of encounter – and indeed interruptions and non-relation – with (human and non-human) Others.

There are a variety of technologies, both nascent and relatively established, that may be researched, including: cellular/mobile telephony; locative media & ‘geo-tagging’; wearable computing; and the increasingly ubiquitous wireless internet. Sites to be interrogated may therefore include places of socio-technical practice, encompassing consumer-users, spectators, producers and technologies in-situ. My research will address recent developments on technology in social and cultural geography. I will also adopt a broader contextualisation through the inter-disciplinary research conducted in the flourishing ‘Science & Technology Studies‘ (STS) movement.

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