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Filtering Touch: An Ethnography of Dirt, Danger, and Industrial Robots

Barker, N; Jewitt, C; (2021) Filtering Touch: An Ethnography of Dirt, Danger, and Industrial Robots. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 10.1177/08912416211026724. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

“Industry 4.0” marks the advent of a new wave of industrial robotics designed to bring increased automation to “extreme” touch practices and enhance productivity. This article presents an ethnography of touch in two industrial settings using fourth generation industrial robots (a Glass Factory and a Waste Management Center) to critically explore the social and sensorial implications of such technologies for workers. We attend to manifestations of dirt and danger as encountered through describing workers’ sensory experiences and identity formation. The contribution of the article is two-fold. The first is analytical through the development of three “filters” to grasp the complexity of the social and sensorial dynamics of touch in situ while tracing dispersed mediating effects of the introduction of novel technologies. The second is empirical, teasing out themes embedded in the sociosensorial dynamics of touch that intersect with gender, ethnicity, and class and relate to the technological mediation of touch.

Type: Article
Title: Filtering Touch: An Ethnography of Dirt, Danger, and Industrial Robots
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/08912416211026724
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F08912416211026724
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 by SAGE Publications. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: dirty and dangerous touch, manual labour, glass manufacturing, waste management, industrial robotics
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130313
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