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A critical reflection on the hegemony of technology and possibilities of including ethics in public consumption

Torgilsson, Petra LU (2015) HEKM50 20152
Human Ecology
Abstract
Motivated by the phenomenon of one laptop per child in education at high-school level in the Swedish public sector, this master’s thesis elaborates on the question of ethics in public consumption. My research aims to show that collective actors such as municipalities can be seen as (un)ethical consumers and that they need to become aware of this. What I find problematic is the underlying processes of production and waste that the consumption of IT-products generates and their effects on the natural world and its inhabitants. I have framed the use of IT-products in education in the narrative of progress and reason, a narrative that can be found in the humanities and the social- as well as the natural sciences. My theoretical framework is... (More)
Motivated by the phenomenon of one laptop per child in education at high-school level in the Swedish public sector, this master’s thesis elaborates on the question of ethics in public consumption. My research aims to show that collective actors such as municipalities can be seen as (un)ethical consumers and that they need to become aware of this. What I find problematic is the underlying processes of production and waste that the consumption of IT-products generates and their effects on the natural world and its inhabitants. I have framed the use of IT-products in education in the narrative of progress and reason, a narrative that can be found in the humanities and the social- as well as the natural sciences. My theoretical framework is mainly based on the concept ‘remoteness’, the separation of humans from nature and earth others through centrism, which Val Plumwood uses in her critique of rationalism. I also consider technology fetishism and have derived my general approach from world-systems analysis. As an analytical tool I have identified a discursive ideal type that I call ‘the hegemonic IT-discourse’ which I relate my empirical material to. By doing interviews with officials with relation to IT in education in the public sector, I wanted to find out whether or not questions of social and ecological sustainability were included in how they talked about computers for students. I suspected their focus would mainly be on economic gain in the local context and my results show that it is so, even though some arguments on ecological sustainability were used. My research shows that actors in public consumption need to somewhat move focus from immediate local economic arguments and also include arguments that promote actions that take responsibility for how local cultures affect global power relations and possibilities to sustain a good life on earth. (Less)
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author
Torgilsson, Petra LU
supervisor
organization
course
HEKM50 20152
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Hegemony, Progress, Social and ecological sustainability, Ethics, IT, Discourse, Remoteness to Ecoharms, Technology Fetishism
language
English
id
8034047
date added to LUP
2015-11-06 12:51:57
date last changed
2015-11-06 12:51:57
@misc{8034047,
  abstract     = {Motivated by the phenomenon of one laptop per child in education at high-school level in the Swedish public sector, this master’s thesis elaborates on the question of ethics in public consumption. My research aims to show that collective actors such as municipalities can be seen as (un)ethical consumers and that they need to become aware of this. What I find problematic is the underlying processes of production and waste that the consumption of IT-products generates and their effects on the natural world and its inhabitants. I have framed the use of IT-products in education in the narrative of progress and reason, a narrative that can be found in the humanities and the social- as well as the natural sciences. My theoretical framework is mainly based on the concept ‘remoteness’, the separation of humans from nature and earth others through centrism, which Val Plumwood uses in her critique of rationalism. I also consider technology fetishism and have derived my general approach from world-systems analysis. As an analytical tool I have identified a discursive ideal type that I call ‘the hegemonic IT-discourse’ which I relate my empirical material to. By doing interviews with officials with relation to IT in education in the public sector, I wanted to find out whether or not questions of social and ecological sustainability were included in how they talked about computers for students. I suspected their focus would mainly be on economic gain in the local context and my results show that it is so, even though some arguments on ecological sustainability were used. My research shows that actors in public consumption need to somewhat move focus from immediate local economic arguments and also include arguments that promote actions that take responsibility for how local cultures affect global power relations and possibilities to sustain a good life on earth.},
  author       = {Torgilsson, Petra},
  keyword      = {Hegemony,Progress,Social and ecological sustainability,Ethics,IT,Discourse,Remoteness to Ecoharms,Technology Fetishism},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {A critical reflection on the hegemony of technology and possibilities of including ethics in public consumption},
  year         = {2015},
}