Overcoming the socio-technical divide: A long-term source of hope in feminist studies of computer science

  • Corinna Bath Department of Philosophy of Science, University of Vienna
Keywords: computer science discipline, feminist theory, sociotechnical divide, gender-technology relationship, interaction paradigm


The dichotomy of the technical and the social is strongly gendered in western thought. Therefore, potential dissolutions of the socio-technical divide have always been a source of hope from a feminist point of view. The starting point of this contribution are recent trends in the computer science discipline, such as the new interaction paradigm and the concept of ‘social machines’, which seem to challenge the borderline of the technical as opposed to the social and, thereby, refresh promises for changes in the gender-technology relationship. The paper primarily explores the entanglement between the socio-technical divide and the structural-symbolic gender order on the basis of historical academic discourses in German computer science. Thereby, traditions of critical thinking in the German computer science discipline and related feminist voices are introduced. A reflection of these historical discourses indicates that ‘interaction’ and ‘social machines’ are contested zones, which call for feminist intervention.