Though they rarely have been at the center of analysis, repair and maintenance have been an ongoing concern in Science and Technology Studies for long time. For instance, the role of technicians in the production of scientific knowledge has been highlighted as crucial in the maintenance of places, instruments and experimental materials (Latour and Woolgar 1979; Shapin 1989; Barley and Bechky 1994), and we are aware that sciences draw on caretaking practices that remain largely invisible (Knorr 1999). In other domains, studies stressed out the importance of adaptative operations in the trajectory of certain technologies (Akrich 1993; de Laet and Mol 2000). In contrast with a model of innovation that insists on stabilization and closure, they showed that some technologies are perpetuated and maintained through adjustments and transformations. More recently, the focus on infrastructures led to a new interest into breakdowns, failures and repair. Researches notably showed how the reparation of infrastructures modifies the ecology of visible and invisible, both for the unnoticed objects that become a matter of concern and for the invisible workers who take care of them (Star 1999). Failures, breakdowns and the repair they imply are also crucial situations in the production of sociotechnical inequities (Graham 2010).
Étiqueté : Maintenance
Before disposability, before planned obsolescence, and even before mass production really entered its modern phase, there reined a different kind of material relation with broken objects. Waste historian Susan Strasser calls this ethos “stewardship,” characterized by handwork, repair, and making do: “We are not likely to revive the stewardship of objects and materials, formed in a bygone culture of handwork. But perhaps new ideas of morality, utility, common sense, and the value of labor—based on the stewardship of the earth and of natural resources—can replace it” (Waste and Want 2000: 293). Andrew Baseman’s blog “Past Imperfect” is making strides to knit together past instances of stewardship and present-day appreciation for the ingenuity and beauty of repair.