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Cursus: 201800145
Technologies in use
Cursus informatie
Studiepunten (ECTS)5
VoertaalEngels P.P.C.C. Verbeek
dr. P. Stegmaier
Contactpersoon van de cursus P.P.C.C. Verbeek
Docent P.P.C.C. Verbeek
AanmeldingsprocedureZelf aanmelden via OSIRIS Student
Inschrijven via OSIRISJa
This course connects to the final qualification K3, K6, S1, S2, S4 S6, S9 of the PSTS programme, according to the following learning objectives:
At the end of the course the student has knowledge of or insight in:
  • Philosophical and STS-perspectives on processes of co-shaping of design and use of technological artefacts.
  • Applying selected qualitative methods of empirical research.
At the end of the course the student is able to:
  • Combine theoretical perspectives with empirical data (from a first experience of conducting empirical research).
Write a coherent academic paper based on theoretically informed empirical research.
Both theoretically and practically, much more attention has been paid to the design and production of technologies than to their use. The purpose of this course is to extend our analytical consideration and understanding of technologies by exploring what it means to speak of 'technologies in use'. We will begin by critically surveying the range of literature, drawn from diverse disciplines, that analytically focuses on 'use' and 'users'. With specific focus on a current issue on user-technology relationship as focal analytic object, we will then turn to four primary issues of contention that arise from bringing this range of literature together.
  • The 'problem' of innovation: In and of itself, innovation is certainly not a problem. Far from it. But we need to consider how the (disproportionate) emphasis on innovation in the multi-disciplinary study of use & users has configured the field, as well as our more general understanding and practices. What aspects and possibilities of use get left out when we privilege the goal and ideal of innovation in our inquiries? And what roles and definitions of users does this ideal bring?
  • The 'problem' of democratization: The analytical focus on use and users of technology is sometimes linked with discussions of democratization of e.g. society and design: giving users a voice is then seen as a form of democratization. Invariably, such discussions are shaped by an author's prior definition of democratization, which itself embodies specific norms and values. Taking this point as 'the problem of democratization', we will explore its various dimensions, connecting approaches to ‘users’, ‘technology’, and ‘democratization’.
  • The 'problem' of dichotomization: What is at stake in / what are the consequences of distinguishing between production/producers and either use/users or consumption/consumers? What other oppositional pairs draw our attention in the context of 'technologies in use'? How do they configure our understanding and practices? And how do approaches like ‘interaction design’ and ‘user-centered design’ relate to these dichotomies?
  • The 'problem' of the 'end user': One consequence of distinguishing between production/producers and use/users has been the introduction of concepts such as end use/'the end user'. Such terms are part of the standard vocabulary in many sectors of technology studies and design practices. Especially in an age of scarcity and concerns with recycling, however, what does it mean to speak of 'end users'? How does it configure our understanding and practices in relation to technologies, their material components and, more generally, the sociomaterial world?
The final portion of the course will be dedicated to individualized or group research projects that put the discussions and insights of the course to work.

Individual or group research project (50%), active participation (10%), individual or group assignment (40%).
Each component of the final grade has to be graded sufficient or more (i.e. 5.5 or more)

Teaching methods:
Seminars. Attendance is obligatory
Required: 40 EC from the PSTS year #1 courses completed.
Participating study
Master Philosophy of Science, Technology and Soc.
Verplicht materiaal
Study materials include scientific articles and PPT, to be published on Canvas
Aanbevolen materiaal


Project begeleid

Papers, participation

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