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The Containers Approach : An Inductive Method to look at Cultural Difference in a Technological Environment

Presented at World Knowledge Dialogue. Crans-Montana (Switzerland) - September 10-13 - . 2008
Abstract The main goal of this presentation is to suggest an inductive way of looking at the idea of cultural difference in a technological environment. The proposal has three characteristics 1) it blurs the gap between natural sciences and human/social sciences, 2) it is extremely simple and down-to-earth, 3) the data that illustrates the method comes from recent field research in China (August 2008) in the realm of technology studies. The broader theoretical framework is provided by recent advances in the field of Science and technology studies (STS). In short, the method consists of first putting aside all differences between all scientific disciplines, and imagining that the world is made of “containers” in which certain amounts of “elements” are being stored. For example, one can consider, say, a Chinese scientist, as a container filled with Chinese characters, certain customs and habits, but also flesh and bones, food that has just been absorbed, etc. A computer ASCII keyboard, is a container filled with Roman alphabet letters, plastic buttons, wires, gray paintings, a flat panel, etc. The interest of the “container” inductive approach is that it allows us to temporarily forget the impossible task of defining “culture” and also differences between living beings and objects, or, for example, physics and arts.
Keywords TechnologyCultureChinaContainerMethodologySTS
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Research group Unité de Chinois
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ZIMMERMANN, Basile. The Containers Approach : An Inductive Method to look at Cultural Difference in a Technological Environment. In: World Knowledge Dialogue. Crans-Montana (Switzerland). 2008. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:4700

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Deposited on : 2009-12-23

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