Expectation and Mobilisation: Enacting Future Users

Science, Technology, and Human Values 34 (4):502-522 (2009)
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Abstract

This article considers how the figure of the ``user'' is deployed to imagine the assembling of location-based mobile phone technologies in the context of UK policy. Drawing on the sociology of expectations, we address the performativity of the ``user'' in the think tank Demos' publication Mobilisation. In the process, we analyze how discourses about users enact particular futures that feature arrangements of, for example, persons, mobile phone technologies, and political institutions. We present two narrative strategies operating in Mobilisation: first, the purification of the social and technological in the portrayal of futures and their impediments; second, how existing, emergent, and future users serve as ``narrative joints'', reconnecting the social and technological in the enactment of preferred policy trajectories. In conclusion, we explore Mobilisation as a `catalogue of expectations' in which the representation of a multiplicity of users is itself performative, enacting a particular future policy terrain while bracketing off others.

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