Ethnographies from the Future: What can ethnographers learn from science fiction and speculative design?

Interesting series on fiction and science, especially social science.

Ethnography Matters

Editor’s Note: Laura Forlano (@laura4lano) is a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Design at the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology and she was a Visiting Scholar in the Comparative Media Studies program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012-2013. Her research is on emergent forms of organizing and urbanism enabled by mobile, wireless and ubiquitous computing technologies with an emphasis on the socio-technical practices and spaces of innovation. In her contribution, Laura describes the lessons ethnographers can learn from Science-Fiction and a sub-domain of design referred to as “speculative design”.


In the recent science fiction film Elysium, by South-African-Canadian director Neill Blomkamp and Matt Damon, the world has descended into a dystopia in which the poor, non-white population must live in squalor on Earth working for a factory that makes robots while the wealthy have moved to a man-made country club in the sky. A recent

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About Nicholas

Associate Professor of Sociology, Environmental Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at Penn State, Nicholas mainly writes about understanding the scientific study of states and, thus, it is namely about state theory. Given his training in sociology and STS, he takes a decidedly STS-oriented approach to state theory and issues of governance.

5 thoughts on “Ethnographies from the Future: What can ethnographers learn from science fiction and speculative design?

  1. EM is a great blog. The format is quite cool in that they operate like micro-journal doing short but high-quality pieces and each month is like a special issue. If you’ve not checked it out, do: Jan and I are going to join that discussion soon talking about a forthcoming piece we’re publishing in Qualitative Sociology about making an actor-network account of actor-network account-making reflexively … should be fun.


  2. Pingback: Blade Runner is 2017? | Installing (Social) Order

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