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Niels Christian M Nickelsen

Socio-material assemblies, the subjectivity of pain and work identity

Research output: Other contributionNet publication - Internet publicationResearchpeer-review


Based on science and technology studies (STS) and actor-network theory (ANT) a roleplay from a production hall, is discussed in relation to the notions of subjectivity and work identity. The article argues that an instance of arthralgia (pain) may both be seen as an effect and a driver of human–machine-material translations. This article is predominantly a methodological one that discusses the performance and effects of the subjectivity of pain and argues that pain may be seen as a pivotal actor in the construction not only of an ongoing controversy among production workers and engineers, but also of different work identities.. It is argued that pain should not simply be seen as illness, or as resistance against the dominant engineering practice and general increase of speed, but also as an important actor in mobilizing a machine operator network. The strength of the analytical approach is that it elucidates connections between the subjectivity of pain, controversy, technologies and work identity. Work identity is argued to be a distributed and temporal phenomenon that is produced in controversy through the passing of certain socio-material assemblies. Although the notion of “fold” is intended to give attention to how multiplicities are folded to singularity ANT has little to say about the production of selves that have a stable sense of who they are across socio-material assemblies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year18 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2015

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