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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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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