Engaging Science, Technology, and Society (Aug 2020)

Unintended by Design: On the Political Uses of “Unintended Consequences”

  • Nassim Parvin,
  • Anne Pollock

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6
pp. 320 – 327


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This paper revisits the term “unintended consequences,” drawing upon an illustrative vignette to show how it is used to dismiss vital ethical and political concerns. Tracing the term to its original introduction by Robert Merton and building on feminist technoscience analyses, we uncover and rethink its widespread usage in popular and scholarly discourses and practices of technology design.