Special Issue of the British Journal of Sociology, April 2020
The issue investigates the changing and expanding role of testing in contemporary society, politics, economy and everyday life, through empirical studies of testing in society, from pregnancy testing to citizen tests by immigration agencies, social credit experiments in China and randomized controlled trials of development, and brings together leading international sociologists and scholars in science and technology studies.
The issue includes an introductory essayby the editors on why we need a new sociology of testing. Noortje Marres introduces the theme of the special issue, and its relevance to the current COVID crisis, in her video abstract. David Stark introduces the Special Issue on the Blindspot blog.
Contributors introduce their studies in video abstracts embedded in the articles, Most of which have now been published in early view:
- Jonathan Bach (New School for Social Research) - The red and the black: China’s social credit experiment as a total test environment
- Natham Coombs (Edinburgh University) - What do stress tests test? Experimentation, demonstration, and the sociotechnical performance of regulatory science
- Giovanni Formilan (University of Edinbrugh Business Shool) and David Stark (University of Warwick) Underground testing: Name‐altering practices as probes in electronic music
- Luciana de Souza Leão (University of Michigan) - What’s on trial? The making of field experiments in international development
- Janet Vertesi (Princeton University) - Testing planets: Institutions tested in an era of uncertainty
- Noortje Marres (University of Warwick) - Co‐existence or displacement: Do street trials of intelligent vehicles test society?
- Willem Schinkel (Erasmus University Rotterdam) - State work and the testing concours of citizenship
- Martin Tironi (University de Santiago de Chile) - Prototyping public friction: Exploring the political effects of design testing in urban space
- Joan Robinson (City University New York) - Sex reckoning: Pregnancy testing and intimate life
Measures undertaken to face the current COVID-19 pandemic have an impact on social relations on many different levels. In this moment, the task of sociology is to reflect on these consequences and their implications for ongoing social transformations. To this end, David Stark and the other editors of Sociologica offer the journal as an open forum to host contributions on these topics or on other research questions connected with the COVID-19 crisis.
As an international online journal for sociological debate, with neither pay-walled access nor pay-for-publication policy, Sociologica can allow for rapid dissemination and open discussion. We commit ourselves to peer-review any contribution at the highest standards and publish rapidly all accepted papers.
We welcome proposals by scholars or teams of scholars for: (1) symposia on strategic topics for the post-COVID-19 sociology, organized through open calls for papers or as groups of papers already commissioned by symposia editors (or a mix of open and commissioned papers); (2) papers reflecting on the most important challenges, in the standard format of scientific articles or in shorter form; (3) flashback and focus papers discussing the COVID-19 outbreak in the light of social history or using sociological tools to reconsider its challenges; (4) accounts and reconstructions of the COVID-19 events in unconventional formats.
Assistant Professor (102864-0320)
The Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies (CIM) at the University of Warwick is looking to appoint a permanent Assistant Professor with a record of internationally recognised research, and a strong track record in the design and delivery of teaching. We are interested in applications from scholars positioned anywhere on the interdisciplinary spectrum, ranging from arts and humanities, to social sciences, computer science, information, environmental and natural sciences.
Please find more information here
Application deadline: 5 April 2020
If you have any queries, please email prof. Noortje Marres (CIM Director) at N.Marres@warwick.ac.uk
Upcoming talk - Dieter, "Recounting Media Art and Net Criticism Mailinglists (1995-2019)" (DSI Lancaster)
CIM researcher Michael Dieter will co-present a keynote with David Gauthier titled 'Recounting Media Art and Net Criticism Mailinglists (1995-2019)' at the Data Science Institute, Lancaster University on 19th March as part of the Data Visualisation Workshop for Critical Computational Discourse. The presentation will draw primarily from material on computational methods and media art mailinglists recently published in the journal Internet Histories - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/24701475.2019.1674580.
For more information and to register, see: https://portal.lancaster.ac.uk/intranet/news/article/data-visualisation-workshop-for-critical-computational-discourse-19th-march
Just like in every futuristic movie ever made, engineers wonder how to decide who a self driving car might kill in an accident, robots are automating our industries, we are experiencing the climate crisis first hand and there is a potential global health crisis looming. As policy makers, industries and governments scramble to solve these real-world problems from the top down, we want to challenge the very mechanisms used for predicting the future.
This panel of academic futures thinkers will hold a conversation focussed on disrupting predictable contemporary thinking in the policy, government and industry and innovation sectors for a future that is more ethical, equitable and inclusive.
For more details : https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/un-predicting-the-future-round-table-discussion-book-launch-tickets-96057076301
Monday 17 February, 6:30pm, Royal Academy of Arts, London.
CIM, in partnership with the Royal Academy, has organised the panel “Air pollution in Cities”, as part of the exhibition Ecovisionaries.
The panel, curated and chaired by Nerea Calvillo, will showcase air pollution visualisations produced by interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners, reflect on how to make data and environmental issues public to improve engagement, and explore how more creative and visual approaches can increase the reach and accessibility of discussions around air pollution in our cities.
Vasilisa Forbes is a photographer and film-maker.
Andrew Grieve is a senior air quality analyst at King’s College London.
Hanna Husberg is a Stockholm based artist.
Noga Levy-Rapoport is a youth climate justice.
Dr Diana Varaden is a research associate in the environmental research group at King’s College London.
Full time, fixed term contract until 30 September 2021.
Applications are invited for a Teaching Fellow in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies and the University of Warwick Q-Step Centre. You will be an outstanding early career or PhD scholar with expertise in computational social science and digital research methodology. You will be expected to contribute to the Q-Step Centre Postgraduate and Undergraduate degrees, and (if required) other existing degree programmes, by teaching on existing modules. You will also be required to develop your own option module in collaboration with other members of the Q-Step Centre. You will be based in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies.
You will have the ability and willingness to teach modules with a focus on big data analysis (QS906) and machine learning (IM931). You will undertake module development, lecturing, seminar and workshop teaching, essay tutorials, dissertation supervision, office hours, marking of postgraduate work, and monitoring of student attendance in accordance with the Centre’s quality assurance practices and, where appropriate, provide pastoral support and guidance during the academic year.
You should have completed a PhD in a relevant subject or have your viva in hand.
All applications must be accompanied by a CV and covering letter and names of three referees. If you have not had the viva for your PhD, at least one of your referees should be a current supervisor.
Please direct informal inquiries to Professor Noortje Marres, email@example.com
Potential candidates are also welcome to contact the Director of Warwick Q-Step Centre, Prof Ulf Liebe (Ulf.Liebe@warwick.ac.uk).
Application Deadline: 28 February 2020
The Patterning of Finance/Security: A Designerly Walkthrough of Challenger Banking Apps | Computational Culture
New paper by Michael Dieter and Nathaniel Tkacz published in the journal Computational Culture, “The Patterning of Finance/Security: A Designerly Walkthrough of Challenger Banking Apps.”
Abstract: Culture is being ‘appified’. Diverse, pre-existing everyday activities are being redesigned so they happen with and through apps. While apps are often encountered as equivalent icons in apps stores or digital devices, the processes of appification – that is, the actions required to turn something into an app – vary significantly. In this article, we offer a comparative analysis of a number of ‘challenger’ banking apps in the United Kingdom. As a retail service, banking is highly regulated and banks must take steps to identify and verify their customers before entering a retail relationship. Once established, this ‘secured’ financial identity underpins a lot of everyday economic activity. Adopting the method of the walkthrough analysis, we study the specific ways these processes of identifying and verifying the identity of the customer (now the user) occur through user onboarding. We argue that banking apps provide a unique way of binding the user to an identity, one that combines the affordances of smart phones with the techniques, knowledge and patterns of user experience design. With the appification of banking, we see new processes of security folded into the everyday experience of apps. Our analysis shows how these binding identities are achieved through what we refer to as the patterning of finance/security. This patterning is significant, moreover, given its availability for wider circulation beyond the context of retail banking apps.
Link to the paper: http://computationalculture.net/the-patterning-of-finance-security/
Citation: Michael Dieter and Nathaniel Tkacz. “The Patterning of Finance/Security: A Designerly Walkthrough of Challenger Banking Apps.” Computational Culture 7 (20th January 2020). http://computationalculture.net/the-patterning-of-finance-security/.
This paper examines recent street tests of autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the UK and makes the case for an experimental approach in the sociology of intelligent technology. In recent years intelligent vehicle testing has moved from the laboratory to the street, raising the question of whether technology trials equally constitute tests of society. To adequately address this question, I argue, we need to move beyond analytic frameworks developed in 1990s Science and Technology Studies, which stipulated “a social deficit” of both intelligent technology and technology testing. This diagnosis no longer provides an effective starting point for sociological analysis, as real‐world tests of intelligent technology explicitly seek to bring social phenomena within the remit of technology testing. I propose that we examine instead whether and how the introduction of intelligent vehicles into the street involves the qualification and re‐qualification of relations and dynamics between social actors. I develop this proposal through a discussion of a field study of AV street trials in three cities in the UK—London, Milton Keynes, and Coventry. These urban trials were accompanied by the claim that automotive testing on the open road will enable cars to operate in tune with the social environment, and I show how iterations of street testing undo this proposition and compel its reformulation. Current test designs are limited by their narrow conception of sociality in terms of interaction between cars and other road users. They exclude from consideration the relational capacities of vehicles and human road users alike—their ability to co‐exist on the open road. I conclude by making the case for methodological innovation in social studies of intelligent technology: by combining social research and design methods, we can re‐purpose real‐world test environments in order to elucidate social issues and dynamics raised by intelligent vehicles in society by experimental means, and, possibly, test society.
New Chapter: ‘Circulation and its Discontents’ by Scott Wark (CIM, Associate Researcher) and McKenzie Wark
Written with McKenzie Wark, this chapter uses the circulation of internet memes and the fraught concept of ‘meme magic’ to examine the incommensurabilities – labour and technics – that structure contemporary online culture. It appears in a new edited collection on internet memes, Post Memes: Seizing the Memes of Production, which is open access and available for download from the punctum books website.