Unintended by Design: On the Political Uses of “Unintended Consequences”

Nassim Parvin, Anne Pollock

Abstract


This paper revisits the term “unintended consequences,” drawing upon an illustrative vignette to show how it is used to dismiss vital ethical and political concerns. Tracing the term to its original introduction by Robert Merton and building on feminist technoscience analyses, we uncover and rethink its widespread usage in popular and scholarly discourses and practices of technology design.

Keywords


unintended consequences; technological utopianism; god trick; angel trick; feminist killjoy; feminist STS

Full Text:

PDF

References


Ahmed, Sara. 2010. “Killing Joy: Feminism and the History of Happiness.” Signs 35: 3 (Spring): 571–594.

Benjamin, Ruha. 2019. Race After Technology. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

De Zwart, Frank. 2015. “Unintended but Not Unanticipated Consequences.” Theory and Society 44, no. 3: 283–297.

Haraway, Donna. 1988. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies 14, no. 3: 575–99.

JafariNaimi (Parvin), Nassim, Lisa Nathan, and Ian Hargraves. “Values as Hypotheses: Design, Inquiry, and the Service of Values.” Design Issues 31, no. 4 (2015): 91–104.

Merton, Robert K. 1936. “The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action.” American Sociological Review 1, no. 6: 894–904.

Pantazidou, Marina, and Indira Nair. 1999. “Ethic of Care: Guiding Principles for Engineering Teaching & Practice.” Journal of Engineering Education 88, no. 2: 205–212.

Sadowski, Jathan, and Roy Bendor. 2019. “Selling Smartness: Corporate Narratives and the Smart City as a Sociotechnical Imaginary.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 44, no. 3: 540–563.

Shelby, Renee. 2020. “Value-Responsible Design and Sexual Violence Interventions: Engaging Value-Hypotheses in Making the Criminological Imagination.” In Routledge Handbook of Public Criminologies, edited by

Kathryn Henne and Rita Shah, 286–298. New York: Routledge.

Whitbeck, Caroline. 1996. “Ethics as Design: Doing Justice to Moral Problems. Hastings Center Report 26, no. 3: 9–16.

Verbeek, Peter Paul. 2006. “Materializing Morality: Design Ethics and Technological Mediation.” Science, Technology, and Human Values. 2006, 31, no. 3: 361–380.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.17351/ests2020.497



Copyright (c) 2020 Nassim Parvin, Anne Pollock

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.