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Users, technologies and expectations of comfort, cleanliness and convenience.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date06/2003
JournalInnovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research
Journal number2
Volume16
Number of pages15
Pages193-207
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

It is often supposed that greater user involvement will result in more sustainable, more socially inclusive designs and technologies. I take issue with this proposition on the grounds that it fails to acknowledge the prior structuring of users' expectations or the socio-technical regimes and landscapes in which specific innovations take root. In developing this position I suggest that the re-specification of normal practice is of greater environmental significance than the ecological design of appliances and products with which taken-for-granted needs are met. It is useful to show how users configure and appropriate specific technologies but it is more important to follow the construction and reproduction of middle-range 'services' such as those of comfort, cleanliness and convenience. This begs the question as to how users are configured and technological systems are appropriated at macro and meso as well as micro levels of innovation. In exploring these issues with reference to air-conditioning, showering, and frozen food, I reframe the notion of user involvement such that the relation between technology, convention and practice takes centre stage.