University of Minho (Portugal)
28th and 29th October 2010

The title of this conference relates to two major topics of the social sciences – work and techniques, namely by highlighting the centrality of work and the social dimension of technique. Considering the three pillars of science – matter, life and knowledge –, it has become an evidence that despite diverse gazes on work and techniques, these have revolutionised the ways of living and working, reinstating the manual and mental processes in automation and reducing the hardship of certain productive tasks. Although this does not equal a general reduction of the monotony of work or of its alienating character, they have brought along profound changes in productive processes and in the uses of labour force with the destruction, creation and reconfiguration of work tasks, positions and identities. 

Globalization structures and dynamics, and their intensity would not be understandable without the primal role of work, technology and techniques in contemporary world. So, new technologies have no homogenizing effects since automation sections and polarizes labour sectors and workers. New technologies, present in the production and circulation of goods and services, along their positive effects in the constriction of space-time, circulate as goods and reproduce, in their flows, asymmetries, which affect countries and social classes with fewer resources. However, as potential change factors with implications in diverse social fields, namely work production and organization modes, techniques can unleash forms of resistance on the part of the social groups they distress. Their appropriation can also constitute a powerful instrument in the contestation of inequality and in the affirmation of citizenship.

To problematize work and technique in the light of these different sociological and anthropological approaches is the main aim of this conference. (more information)