O’Donovan, Cian, & Adrian Smith (2020). Technology and human capabilities in UK makerspaces. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 21(1), 63-83. (doi: 10.1080/19452829.2019.1704706) (Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/19452829.2019.1704706) (Open Access: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19452829.2019.1704706)

Abstract: The relationship between technology and human capabilities is an ambivalent one. The same technology can expand capabilities for some users under certain circumstances, whilst diminishing capabilities for others situated differently. In this paper we analyse human capabilities in relation to digital design and fabrication technologies as configured, sociotechnically, in makerspaces in the UK. Through a combination of methods, the study identifies how some of the capability benefits claimed for makerspaces are experienced in practice, whilst noting that other capabilities claimed appear absent. Q-method in particular enables the study to examine systematically the plurality in these expansions and absences. We discuss how capabilities might be expanded, how our methods might be of wider use, and we draw some conclusions for theory regarding sociotechnical configurations and human capabilities.

Cian O’Donovan <c.o’donovan> is in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London, London, UK.

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