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Title: Making useful stuff : a context-sensitive enquiry of the sociomaterial practices of makers-in-the-making
Authors: Meissner, Janis Lena
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: In theory, maker technologies such as 3D-printers, micro-controllers and other fabrication tools have the capacity to empower their end-users to create any designs they wish. However, what do people without any technical background need so that these can become useful tools for them in practice? To explore this question, I have undertaken three case studies that have involved introducing maker technologies to people with disabilities, a charity quilting group and a Men’s Shed in order that they can make their own ‘useful stuff’. Each collaboration was different in terms of project settings, durations, creative aims and ways of participation. However, they all shared an explorative (Participatory) Action Research approach that engaged participants as makersin-the-making to acknowledge the skills they brought into the projects and let them develop new design ideas around their own interests. Studying the use of maker technologies in real-world settings and in direct relation to my participants’ agendas allowed me to explore Making as a situated sociomaterial practice that was practically and politically valuable to users. Together, we captured their respective practice trajectories in rich qualitative data, including my reflective ethnographic fieldnotes as a facilitating researcher, first-hand accounts of my participants’ experiences and various creative representative artefacts. Analysis was deeply rooted in the participants’ reflections and extended by contextualising their Making in the wider legacies of crafts and Do-ItYourself culture to unpack more the particular agencies of different sociomaterial actors. The contributions of this work are three-fold: Firstly, I present the ‘research through making together’ methodology I developed for the research. Secondly, the work contributes qualitative findings on the specific ‘usefulness’ of maker technologies for diverse makers-inthe-making. Thirdly, strategic input is offered for context-sensitive facilitation in similar situations where facilitators aim to enable people from non-technical backgrounds to deal productively with the practical complexity of Making
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Computing

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