The chapter gives an overview of research about user-technology relationships in the field of science and technology studies. The areas reviewed include innovation studies (especially von Hippel’s lead users), sociology of technology (especially social construction of technology), feminist studies of technology (gender, diversity and power), semiotic approaches (meaning building), and media and cultural studies (domestication and consumption). User-centered design is mentioned as one additional field of research (outside STS) where users and technology have been studied.
In conclusions the authors recognize the lack of studies concerning factory workers and production work as one problem of current STS research. In addition healthcare and medical sociology is mentioned as one vast branch of literature that was omitted in the review. The notions are interesting since, work context (as well as factory work) has been studied quite a lot in CSCW and HCI. Also the vast existing literature of medical sociology should be of interest of UCD and HCI researchers working on healthcare related topics.
As the final words, the authors emphasize the role of user studies as a strategy to connect and combine otherwise separated studies and research topics.
“Users are no respecters of boundaries, and studying users forces the analyst also to cross boundaries.”
Oudshoorn, N. & Pinch, T. (2008) User-Technology Relationships: Some Recent Developments, In E.J. Hackett, O. Amsterdamska, M. Lynch and J. Wajcman (eds.) The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (3rd ed). The MIT Press, London, England. pp. 541-565.