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Human and technological redundancy.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date06/1998
JournalSocial Studies of Science
Journal number3
Volume28
Number of pages66
Pages335-400
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In this paper, we are concerned with the ways in which pain and redundancy might be accommodated within the framework of Actor-Network Theory. We pose the question: what are the consequences, both analytic and human, when technologies and humans are removed from sociotechnical networks? Taking the production of Trident as the `core business' of the nuclear submarine manufacturers VSEL, and addressing not only the process of technological innovation, but also of technological production, we explore how both workers and `alternative' technologies were rendered redundant, or `disenrolled'. However, we view these redundant actors as retaining a lingering presence, in the form of what we call `phantom intermediaries'. These, we argue, continue to shape the relevant sociotechnical network by `disciplining' the remaining actors. Over and above this, they also serve to signify preferred futures, and the possibility of resistance. Finally, we will draw out some of the broader implications of our approach for the study of sociotechnical networks and their relation to redundancy and pain.