Abandoning technology: Understanding the dynamics of technological trajectories of phase-out

PhD project by Zahar Koretsky, supervised by prof. dr. Harro van Lente

 

Zahar’s research is aimed to explain how technology is abandoned. Technologies have been abandoned in the past. Examples are aerosols, the inefficient light bulb, DDT, coal and nuclear power. They are also abandoned on a day-to-day basis as new generations of devices or techniques replace older ones. What happens to technologies such as these? What happens to the knowledge base, the proprietary regimes, the professional communities, the users, the governmental stakes? How does these processes unfold? Understanding the dynamics of trajectories of phase-out will likely be increasingly important in the coming decades as environmental, social and economic pressures align and reinforce each other.

To answer these and other questions Zahar draws from STS and innovation studies. Empirically, he bases his research on the interesting and troublesome histories of cloud seeding, early computers computer and German post-war aircraft. Analytically, the study contributes to social practice theory (Giddens, Shove), innovation regimes (Godoe, Geels) and the sociology of expectations (Van Lente, Brown). Politically, his project is aimed to contribute to discussions about the efficacy of science and technology restrictions and the performativity of fear in technological development.

 

[Image copyright: PA Images]