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Accepted Contribution:

Technological co-production, user roles and transformative perspectives: developing a typology of the kit economy  
Sebastien Shulz (IFRIS, Université Paris-Est) Aurélien Béranger (Costech Lab, Université de Technologie de Compiègne)

Long abstract:

The concept of the "kit economy," where users play a crucial role in the co-production of technological goods, holds a significant place in today's technological landscape from self-assembly cell phones to objects created in makerspaces utilizing digital technologies like 3D printers and laser cutters, not to mention the recent 5G telecommunications towers. Its origins can be traced back to anarchist philosophies advocating for cooperative production as a mean towards a democratic economy. Despite its historical depth and contemporary relevance, Science and Technology Studies (STS) literature has largely overlooked the kit economy, focusing instead on public action, participatory science, and grassroots innovation, coproduction, leaving technological co-production by non-experts as a blind spot.

This communication proposes to address this gap by developing a typology of kit economy forms, based on two primary dimensions: the level of user involvement on one side, and the intent to transform or optimize the production system on the other. Our analysis aims to map out how user participation in the kit economy varies along these dimensions, shedding light on the diversity of practices that encompass both democratic engagement and technocratic approaches to technology co-production.

By applying this typology to French case studies, we seek to demonstrate the applicability and relevance of our classification. Through this examination, we contribute to a broader understanding of the implications of user involvement and transformative perspectives in technological co-production, enriching the STS literature in general, and that on co-production in particular.

Combined Format Open Panel P130
The 'kit economy' and the co-production of technology. From theory to practice.
  Session 1