Accepted Paper:

Crafters, Makers, and Takers: A Critical Look at Maker Rhetoric   

Authors:

Dawn Neill (California Polytechnic State University)
Coleen Carrigan (California Polytechnic State University)

Paper short abstract:

Through critical examination of the meaning of Maker rhetoric and action, this paper seeks to describe variable actors constructing the Maker movement. We identify these actors as crafters, makers, and takers, paying special attention to the impact of capitalist motivations on increasing diversity in Making.

Paper long abstract:

The Maker movement is often described as a burgeoning tech-inspired catalyst for grass-roots social change motivated by the sharing of ideas and information, democratization of expertise, and engagement of diverse perspectives. The movement impacts emergent conceptualizations of science, education, technology, and citizenship. Despite its global reach and undeniable impact, the movement continues to lack cultural cohesion. Through critical examination of the meanings and motivations of Maker rhetoric and action, this paper seeks to describe variable actors constructing the Maker movement. We pair participant-observation with discourse analysis of spoken and print material gathered in Maker-oriented spaces in Portland and Seattle. In doing so, we contribute to a growing critical perspective in anthropology and Science and Technology Studies that interrogates the emergent Maker discourse in light of information sharing and diverse participation. Our analysis identifies thematic Maker rhetoric focused on diversity, equality, imaginative possibility, and community. Upon closer inspection, however, Maker culture reveals in itself strong capitalist-oriented goals, which undercut support for community and diversity and may ultimately re-orient Maker culture as the antithesis of grass roots social change. Our analysis identifies three sets of actors: Crafters, who rely on the tools and expertise available through Makerspaces to produce; Makers, who own, manage, operate, and guide Makerspaces through an array of modalities; and Takers, the omnipresent capitalist infrastructural interests impacting Maker rhetoric, purchasing innovation, and impeding social change.

Panel T107
Maker Movement, FabLabs, Hackerspace and improvisation: Science, Technology and Education by other means?