Lucy Suchman on Located Accountabilities:
This paper explores the relevance of feminist reconstructions of subject/object relations, or what Helen Verran has named ontic/epistemic politics, for the development of alternative practices of technology production and use. I take as my starting place the working relations that make up the design and use of technical systems. Working relations are understood as sociomaterial connections that sustain the visible and invisible work required to construct coherent technologies and put them into use. I outline the boundaries that characterize current relations of development and use, and the reconfigurations required to transform them. Three contrasting positions for design - the view from nowhere, detached intimacy, and located accountability - are discussed as alternative bases for a politics of professional design practice. From the position of located accountability, I close by sketching aspects of what a feminist politics and associated practices of technology production could be.
Lucy Suchman is Professor in the Sociology Department at Lancaster University. She received a Ph.D. in Social/Cultural Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley, and spent twenty years as a researcher at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center. Her research has centered on the sociomaterial practices that make up technical systems, explored through critical studies and through experimental, interdisciplinary and participatory interventions in new technology design.