Kathryn Furlong on infrastructure

A new paper by Kathryn Furlong is out in Sage’s “Progress in Human Geography” titled “Small technologies, big change: Rethinking infrastructure through STS and geography

The abstract reads:

Infrastructure tends to be conceived as stabilized and ‘black-boxed’ with little interaction from users. This fixity is in flux in ways not yet fully considered in either geography or science and technology studies (STS). Driven by environmental and economic concerns, water utilities are increasingly introducing efficiency technologies into infrastructure networks. These, I argue, serve as ‘mediating technologies’ shifting long-accepted socio-technical and environmental relationships in cities. The essay argues for a new approach to infrastructure that, by integrating insights from STS and geography, highlights its malleability and offers conceptual tools to consider how this malleability might be fostered.

While the author might be a little hard on STS, stating:

STS tends to privilege the technical and thus often exhibits less refined approaches to social, political, and economic processes, has little to say on the production of nature, and exhibits ‘a rather generic notion of space’ and place (Truffer, 2008: 978)

It is still well worth the read, especially given the necessity to consider geographic issues, which might be a way to consider the matters of scale we so recently discussed here.

1 thought on “Kathryn Furlong on infrastructure

  1. @Kathryn,.Interesting stuff — I’ll look into these as soon as I can. Perhaps you could expand on your thoughts related to scale in your guest blogging posts next month — they’d be welcome, to my mind. .Also, could you help me get a better handle on why scale matters so much for geogrpahy — I can "guess’ or "use my sociological imagination" but I’d love to hear it from a bona fide geographer…


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