Economies of Tech
With the new forms of technology have come new ways of valuing people, things, practices, and ideas. From data-driven credit-ratings impacting people’s chance of a mortgage, to platforms monetizing attention in our digital dealings, the intersection of technology and economy plays a large role for people across the world. Popular documentaries and books point to the way economies in/of technologies have also become matters of public concern. The initial optimism and hype of tech and ‘free’ data has given way to a skepticism to the ways that new forms of digital technology and data seem instead to increase the wealth and power of a select few, on the one hand, and increasing surveillance and control for many, on the other. With these new technologies we must take into account powerful new actors such as tech-corporations, platforms, algorithms, and big data that shape the playing ground for our future society.
Within this nexus, anthropologists and social scientists from adjacent disciplines have the potential to contribute to both academic and public debates regarding economies of technology by engaging both critically and productively with the way that technology is shaping society and making specific assertions about what is “of value”. This course aims to equip students with knowledge, skills, and competencies to engage with the current developments in tech by building on classical as well as current theoretical perspectives from fields including economic and digital anthropology, sociology, and science and technology studies (STS).
The course begins with a historical perspective on the development of current economic and tech-structures, asking what is actually new. It then examines types of tech economies and forms of valuation, considering topics such as credit (e)valuations, the power of platforms, the producers of tech such as software engineers and users, prediction algorithms, digital money and markets, and surveillance capitalism. Students will develop their own argument about the changing economies of tech during the course using an empirical case and present their own case for feedback at a workshop, before writing the final essay.
At the end of the course students must be able to:
- Describe key questions and debates regarding tech-related economies and economic practices
- Demonstrate knowledge of anthropological and related theories and cases relating to the study of economies and technologies based on relevant literature
- Demonstrate knowledge of developments in economic practices relating to technology
- Identify and describe ethnographic and empirical cases relevant to the study of economies and technologies
- Identify how things, people, practices, and ideas are made to be of value
- Formulate a research question that interrogates the potential and the limits of economic and valuation perspectives on technology
- Apply the principles and theories acquired during the course to different ethnographic and empirical settings
- Analyze similarities and differences in changing economic and technological practices
- Analyze the impact of economic and technological practices for different actors
The course will use a variety of teaching and learning methods, including lectures, discussions, presentations, and exercises.
Feedback will be provided throughout the course, including oral and peer feedback.
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Type of assessment details
- One BA student: 21600-26400 keystrokes. For group responses,
Min. 6,750 and Max. 8,250 extra keystrokes per extra group member.
One MA student: 27,000-33,000 keystrokes. For group responses, Min. 8,450 and Max. 10,300 extra keystrokes per extra group member.
For groups with both BA and MA students:
A MA and a BA student: 31,900-38,975 (BA: 14.175-17.325 KA: 17.725-21.650)
A MA and two BA students: 38,050 – 46,475 (BA: 11,700-14.300 KA: 14.650-17.875)
A MA and three BA students: 44,525-54,375 (BA: 10.475-12,800 MA: 13.100-15.975)
Two MA and one BA student: 41,000-50,050 (BA: 11,700-14.300 KA: 14.650-17.875)
Two MA and two BA students: 47,150-57,550 (BA: 10.475-12,800 MA: 13.100-15.975)
Three MA and one BA student: 49,775-60,725 (BA: 10.475-12,800 MA: 13.100-15.975)
MA students must include supplementary literature in the exam assignment. The supplementary literature is chosen by the student.
Iof level and contribution
Students must indicate on the first page of the assignment whether they are a BA or MA students. In the case of group assignments, the contribution of each individual student must be clearly marked in the assignment.
- All aids allowed
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
See learning outcome.
- Course number
- 7,5 ECTS
- Programme level
Bachelor choiceFull Degree MasterFull Degree Master choice
- Department of Anthropology, Study Council
- Department of Anthropology
- Faculty of Social Sciences
- Samantha Dawn Breslin (16-7a687468757b6f683569796c7a7370754768757b6f797635727c356b72)
Are you BA- or KA-student?
Courseinformation of students