The Amish are famous for their disconnection from the modern world and all its devices. But, as Lindsay Ems shows in Virtually Amish, Old Order Amish today are selectively engaging with digital technology. The Amish need digital tools to participate in the economy-websites for ecommerce, for example, and cell phones for communication on the road-but they have developed strategies for making limited use of these tools while still living and working according to the values of their community. The way they do this, Ems suggests, holds lessons for all of us about resisting the negative forces of what has been called "high-tech capitalism." Ems shows how the Amish do not allow technology to drive their behaviour; instead, they actively configure their sociotechnical world to align with their values and protect their community's autonomy. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork conducted in two Old Order Amish settlements in Indiana, Ems explores explicit rules and implicit norms as innovations for resisting negative impacts of digital technology. She describes the ingenious contraptions the Amish devise-including "the black-box phone," a landline phone attached to a device that connects to a cellular network when plugged into a car's cigarette lighter-and considers the value of human-centred approaches to communication. Non-Amish technology users would do well to take note of Amish methods of adopting digital technologies in ways that empower people and acknowledge their shared humanity. Series Overview: Books published in the Acting With Technology Series are concerned with the study of meaningful human activity as it is mediated by tools and technologies. The series has a broad interdisciplinary scope. While grounded in science and technology studies, human-computer interaction, and computer-supported collaborative work, the series aims to bring together and mutually inform conceptual developments and empirical explorations of the technological mediation of human activity in these and other fields such as sociology, communication, education, and organisational studies. Acting With Technology volumes encompass a diversity of theoretical frameworks including activity theory, actor network theory, distributed cognition, and other practice-based theories developed through ethnomethodological and grounded theory approaches. The books investigate tool-mediated processes of working, organising, playing, and learning in and across a wide variety of social settings, with a special focus on significant contemporary issues related to emerging technology-related trends in culture and society.
Virtually Amish Preserving Community at the Internet's Margins - Acting With Technology
Paperback (07 Jun 2022)
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