Barry Brown and Oskar JuhlinEnjoying Machines

MIT Press, 2015

by Jasmine McNealy on January 6, 2016

View on Essay.ws

When we consider the television, we think not only about how it's used, but also it's impact on culture. The television, tv, telly, or tube, became popular in the West in the late 1940s and early 1950s and was seen as a form of entertainment and enjoyment for the family. Other "technology" that assists with leisure include things like rubber-soled shoes, books, and other digital devices. In their new book, Enjoying Machines (MIT 2015), Barry Brown and Oskar Juhlin, both scholars in the Stockholm University Mobile Life VINN Excellence Center, the success of a particular technology can be measured by how well it creates pleasure.

The authors argue that pleasure "is fundamentally social in nature," and that to understand how technology supports leisure it is important to "produce a more sophisticated definition" of enjoyment. To do this Brown and Juhlin embark on an ethnographic investigation of technology and enjoyment that combines the sociological study of activity and the study of human-machine interaction. Over the course of their examination, the authors are careful to consider both the positives – enjoyment – and negatives – addiction- in relation to devices. Ultimately, Enjoying Machines offers a model of enjoyment useful for better understanding how to design useful machines.

submit to hubski

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Sean McCloudAmerican Possessions: Fighting Demons in the Contemporary United States

January 5, 2016

Exorcisms and demons. In his new book American Possessions: Fighting Demons in the Contemporary United States (Oxford University Press, 2015), Sean McCloud argues that not only have such phenomena been on the rise in the last 30 or so years, they also reveal prominent tropes within the contemporary American religious landscape. More precisely, readers are introduced […]

Read the full article →

Mayanthi FernandoThe Republic Unsettled: Muslim French and the Contradictions of Secularism

January 5, 2016

Mayanthi Fernando's The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French and the Contradictions of Secularism (Duke University Press, 2014) is an important and provocative book. Drawing on years of field work, the book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the complex interactions between religion and politics in contemporary France. Considering the Islamic revival and public debates […]

Read the full article →

Carla FreemanEntrepreneurial Selves: Neoliberal Respectability and the Making of a Caribbean Middle Class

January 5, 2016

This marvelous ethnography traces one of the surprising outcomes of shifting neoliberal regimes in Barbados. As women find themselves leading entrepreneurial lives, they also find themselves engaging in a new range of emotions, both at work and at home. Carla Freeman's Entrepreneurial Selves: Neoliberal Respectability and the Making of a Caribbean Middle Class (Duke University Press, 2014) follows […]

Read the full article →

Afaneh NajmabadiProfessing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran

December 30, 2015

In her fascinating new book Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran (Duke University Press, 2015), Afaneh Najmabadi, Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University, explores shifting meanings of transsexuality in contemporary Iran. By brilliantly combining historical and ethnographic inquiry, Najmabadi highlights the complex ways in which biomedical, […]

Read the full article →

Erik Linstrum Ruling Minds: Ruling Minds: Psychology in the British Empire

December 30, 2015

In Ruling Minds: Psychology in the British Empire (Harvard University Press, 2016), Erik Linstrum examines how the field of psychology was employed in the service of empire. Linstrum explores the careers of scientists sent to the South Pacific, India, and Africa to verify and define characteristics of white racial superiority. Far from confirming the inferiority […]

Read the full article →

Sujey VegaLatino Heartland: Of Borders and Belonging in the Midwest

December 30, 2015

In Latino Heartland: Of Borders and Belonging in the Midwest (New York University Press, 2015), Sujey Vega Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University, traces the way Latina/o Hoosiers established community and belonging in Central Indiana amongst the sharp rise in anti-immigrant/Mexican sentiment after the passage of the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and […]

Read the full article →

Peter J. GloviczkiJournalism and Memorialization in the Age of Social Media

December 30, 2015

Humans have coped with tragedy using ritual and memorials since the Neolithic era. Doka called a memorial a space invested with meaning, "set aside to commemorate an event such as a tragedy." Memorialization is a ritual of bereavement, the creation of a place, permanent or not, that facilitates the persistence of memory. This space allows for […]

Read the full article →

Natasha MyersRendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter

December 21, 2015

After reading Natasha Myers's new book, the world begins to dance in new ways. Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter (Duke University Press, 2015) is a sensory ethnography of protein crystallographers that is based on five years of fieldwork conducted between 2003-2008 at a research university on the East Coast of the US. "Protein modelers […]

Read the full article →

Michael KimmelAngry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era

December 18, 2015

Michael Kimmel is the Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University. He is also executive director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities. His book Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era (Nation Books, 2013) is an engaging and eye-opening book about the lives […]

Read the full article →