This article examines the domestication of technologies by following different phases of adoption. These phases are studied as a set of trials in which the capabilities of humans and non-humans are tested in many ways. I will begin the article by investigating the period in which interest in a piece of technology is slowly aroused. This involves the collective assessment of the 'need' for an object and, before an actual acquisition is made, consultations with friends and relatives who can act as 'warm specialists'. Next, I analyse the initial period of living with new technology: the way the technology in question needs to be fitted into pre-existing technological and human relationships. Finally, I examine the ways in which a technology that has become an integral part of everyday life slowly becomes less and less present until, at last, it seems to have been done away with. As a whole, the set of trials forms a general process of domestication whereby new user knowledge is created and the moral order of the household is negotiated recurrently. Key words adoption of new technology • biography of things • user experienceJournal of Consumer Culture
The article presents two main arguments. First, we claim that in contemporary societies, insurance enacts peculiar kinds of solidarities as well as inequality and exclusion. Especially important in this respect are life, health, disability and old age pension insurance, both in compulsory and voluntary forms. Second, the article maintains that the ideas of solidarity, inequality and exclusion are transformed by the machinery of insurance. In other words, the concrete ways in which insurance relations are practically arranged have an effect on the ways in which the related moral and political concepts are perceived. We elaborate on three different forms of insurance solidarity, which we call chance, risk and income solidarity. The existence of multiple forms of solidarity relevant to insurance is significant because practices of insurance require decisions concerning what kind of solidarity is emphasised, when it is emphasised, and on what grounds. Moreover, what is solidarity for some can entail exclusion and inequality for others. Showing these internal tensions within insurance practice underlines the inherently political and moral nature of insurance.
Dumpster diving for food implies using discarded edibles found in waste containers behind supermarkets, for example. People who voluntarily engage in this activity suggest that it is a form of hands-on social critique. In this article, we use interview materials to describe and conceptualize this practice. The main question we pose is: in what way is voluntary dumpster diving a 'critical practice'? Drawing on the pragmatic sociology of critique, we show how it is a question of an entangled practice in multiple ways: first, dumpster diving is at once a means of contestation and experimentation on the limits of the contemporary form of life and yet simply a way of getting food for free or having fun with friends; second, while being a thoroughly rational endeavour for its practitioners, the activity is simultaneously rife with affect; finally, although dumpster divers are fully aware that they are dependent on the capitalistic form of food supply, the practice allows them to challenge its institutional self-evidences and distance themselves from it.
This article explores the domestication of a financial instrument that is much used in contemporary Finland, but that most of its users do not primarily think about in terms of being a financial instrument: the private health insurance for children. In Finland, all children are covered by social insurance and are entitled to free public health service. Yet, some 40% of families want to supplement this service with private products. Many fear that the popularity of the private health insurance for children contributes to a vicious circle that ends up weakening the legitimacy of, and the service given by, the public health sector; inequality in the face of health risks threatens to be aggravated, as well. Therefore, this financial instrument has become an object of political controversy. The main question of the article is: how do economic, political and moral valuations become intertwined in the domestication of insurance? The concept of 'domestication' is found helpful for analysing the pragmatics of valuation and for appreciating the dynamics and the heterogeneity of forces at play when financialisation influences everyday life. The study argues that when financial instruments are appropriated they are also transformed; thus, they should not be viewed as homogeneous tools that have similar effects in all contexts of use. Yet, emphasising the activity of the people involved in domesticating the products on offer does not lead to downplaying the influence that it has on them. Rather, the case study shows how, concretely, the use of a financial product can have an effect on welfare institutions, and how families'
This article examines the promotion of private life insurance in Finland between 1945 and 1990. Although a fully-fledged social insurance system was established during this period, private insurance did not become obsolete. How were people encouraged to engage in voluntary forms of insurance in the new situation? We study the ways in which insurance was marketed by justifying its usefulness in relation to the 'goods' that were presumed common to all potential customers. The key theoretical frameworks are given by the literature on 'governmentality' and by Boltanski and Thévenot's model of justifications. The first of these is used in our discussion of the general role of insurance as a multifaceted social technology, whereas we use the model of justifications in analysing the core themes of promotion. The promotional materials reveal that private life insurance is not an attractive economic tool for potential customers without reference to at least some moral justifications. However, these justifications are heterogeneous and open to change. In addition, the question of which particular moral emphasis seems most relevant, and when, is related to socio-economic transformations. Especially important are the changes in the interplay between social and private forms of organizing insurance responsibility.
While the circular economy invites us to realize the potential of the so-called ‘waste-based commodity frontiers’, reintegration into capitalist value chains is not the only way for discards to be resurrected. In this article, we examine the ways in which the collective of dumpster divers is organized in relation to giving, receiving and reciprocating of various waste-gifts. Our intention is not only to expand existing theorizations of the gift to new domains but also to critically interrogate them, identify their limitations and explore what dumpster diving can teach us about the gift. In particular, the analysis foregrounds the heterogeneity of gift practices. Arguing against universal notions of the gift, the article proposes that waste assumes four main forms of gifts and relations among dumpster divers: givenness (parasitic relation); solidarity-based giving (relation of reciprocity); free giving (asymmetrical relation); and non-giving, as a withdrawal from returning the discards to nature conceived as an Other (the relation of non-relation).
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