Final 2020-21 STS Seminar discusses how critical social science can help us think differently about technology

The 2020-21 STS Seminar Series will conclude on April 6 with a discussion on “Thinking Differently About Technology: Contributions from Critical Social Science,” featuring three guest speakers from Concordia University who specialize in sociology and anthropology.

Sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology Studies and coordinated by its members, the Research Seminar Series in Science & Technology Studies features seminars on a wide range of STS-related topics. The series is now in its 27th year and has hosted over 500 speakers from Canada and around the world.

The final talk of this academic year will take place virtually via Zoom from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on April 6.

Building on work undertaken by sociology Professor Eric Mykhalovskiy (York University) and Professor Viviane Namaste (Simone de Beauvoir Institute and Women’s Studies, Concordia University), in their recently published edited collection entitled Thinking Differently About HIV/AIDS: Contributions from Critical Social Sciences, presenters Neha Chugh, Colin Hastings and Martin French will stage a friendly debate between three different 'critical dispositions' for studying information technology.

Chugh graduated from the University of Waterloo with honours degrees in sociology and social work. Prior to completing a JD at Osgoode Hall Law School, she began her career as a social worker in community development policy with the federal government. Using her passion for criminal law, she started Chugh Law Professional Corporation in 2014, where she focuses primarily on conducting effective trials and managing fair resolutions, with an emphasis on youth and adult mental health, litigation and research. Chugh is currently pursuing a PhD in social and cultural analysis at Concordia University, with a focus on problem-solving courts and therapeutic justice.

Hastings is a SSHRC postdoctoral Fellow at Concordia University. His research focuses on the sociology of health, socio-legal studies and media studies. He is the author of studies about community-based HIV education, media representation of HIV criminal non-disclosure cases, and key trends and patterns in HIV criminalization in Canada. Hastings earned his PhD at York University’s Department of Sociology, where his dissertation project focused on how news stories about HIV criminalization are produced in Canada.

French is an associate professor in sociology and anthropology at Concordia University, where he studies the social dimensions of technology with an empirical focus on communications & information technology (CIT). His research emphasizes the broader social and political contexts of CIT, focusing especially on risk, surveillance, privacy, and social justice. Recently, he has embarked on a study of efforts to regulate ‘dangerous,' ‘risky,' and ‘contentious’ forms of digitally-mediated consumption. A key set of questions underlying this study concerns what might be termed the ‘gamblification’ of games, the incorporation of addictive, gambling-like retention mechanics into digital games.

STS Seminars are open to the public, and STS majors are especially encouraged to attend. To receive a Zoom link for the seminar, contact the seminar series coordinator, Conor Douglas, at cd512@yorku.ca.

As the 2020-21 STS Seminar Series wraps up, planning for next year’s events is already underway. Those interested in presenting their research at future seminars can contact Conor Douglas.

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