On Trading Zones, Ecologies of Knowledge and Technological Change: Some Methodological Considerations towards Culturally Encompassing Socio-Historical Narratives
CITA and Faculty of Computer Science University of Namur Namur, Belgium
In this paper, I develop a methodological reflection - inspired by empirical research on the diffusion of modern computing in Europe - on ways of constructing culturally encompassing multi-factorial socio-historical analyses of technological change processes that account for the complexity of the social and cultural processes of technology appropriation and normalisation. I will discuss towards that end, on the one hand, the concepts of "trading zone" and "intercalated periodisation", introduced by P.L. Galison in his "Image and Logic" towards the writing of encompassing culturally and epistemologically-concerned narratives on the history of physics, and, on the other hand, that of "ecology of knowledge" proposed by A. Akera, e.g. in his "Calculating a Natural World" - following on from Galison - towards exploration of computing history in the context of the early Cold War. In a second stage, I will outline a proposal for a combined, integrated, usage of the "trading zone", "intercalated periodisation" and "ecology of knowledge" concepts towards assisting exploration of technological change as socio-historico-cultural process in which micro, meso and global history issues would be potentially accounted for and related to one another. These discussion and proposal will be inspired by other existing analytical methodological tools and concepts developed towards the exploration of social systems and societies under processes of technologisation. Among these concepts: 'technological regime' (Kemp and van den Ende), 'practice' (Galison, Hacking, Shapin, Schaffer), 'hybridity' and 'heterogeneity' (Galison, Latour), 'bifurcation' (Serres), 'trajectoire technologique' (Tissot, Veyrassat), 'habitus' (Bourdieu), 'boundary object' and 'institutional ecology' (Leigh Star, Griesemer).