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When is an Affordance? Bodies, Technologies and Action Possibilities

Research output: Working paper

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Abstract

Borrowed from ecological psychology, the concept of affordances is often said to offer the social study of technology a means of re-framing the question of what is, and what is not, 'social' about technological artefacts. The concept, many argue, enables us to chart a safe course between the perils of technological determinism and social constructivism. The debate is still ongoing and this paper is a contribution to it. Drawing on ethnographic work on the ways technological artefacts engage, and are engaged by disabled bodies, we propose that the 'affordances' of such objects are not reducible to their material constitution but are inextricably bound up with specific, historically situated modes of engagement and ways of life.