Software as a method acts as an epistemic instrument for knowing subjects and enacts rationalities for governing. As software enter new domains, what forms of sorting do they bring, and how do they act on subjects? We seek to examine software as method through ethnographic/historical case studies.
Software as a method for computation, counting, or classification acts not only as an epistemic instrument for knowing subjects, but also enacts rationalities for governing them—whether it is the citizen, the technocrat, the data worker, or the university teacher. Software proposes collectivities of human-machine relationships that configure subjects, objects, and forms of expertise—who counts, what is counted, and what counts as counting. In this panel, we build on the notion that methods enact subjects and subjectivities, and we ask: As software methods enter new institutions and domains (public and private) through computerization, digitisation, and datafication, what forms of sorting do they bring, and how do they act on subjects? How do they generate collectivities of belonging? What specific methods of computation, calculation, and classification participate in assembling new subjectivities through software? As methods, how do software translate across the human/machine divide, anticipating and remediating subjectivities? We welcome papers that examine software as method through ethnographic or historical case studies, focusing on the relations between subjects and objects, forms of anticipation and memory practices, past and future making, as well as ways of knowing and acting on subjectivities. We are particularly interested in analyses that approach the effects of method at the level of the vocation or fields, e.g., how occupational subjectivities are reshaped in the name of software.