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Title: The techno-centred imagination : a multi-sited ethnographic study of Technological Human Enhancement Advocacy (THEA)
Author: MacFarlane, James Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 7657 940X
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the social construction and performance of Technological Human Enhancement Advocacy through multi-sited ethnographically inspired participant observation across a range of sites. It argues that advocacy efforts surrounding the ideal of technological human enhancement share the ideational feature of Techno-centrism - an object-level belief embedded in the material present while simultaneously future-oriented and thus principally immaterial. This purposive neo-dualism blurs 'real' and 'imagined' futures to satiate the materialist ontological grounding associated with the scientific worldview, while granting extended licence to more indulgent, compelling visions for technology as an enabler of affirmative, forward-facing action - including revivifying pursuit of humanist ideals associated with the modernisation project. The thesis makes contributions to three areas. Firstly, in substantive terms, it contributes towards sociological knowledge by detailing the intersubjective values, semiotic framing mechanisms and narrative tropes evoked to both justify and promote the notion of Technological Human Enhancement Advocacy (THEA), an area which remains under-researched. Secondly, the thesis makes a theoretical contribution through its modelling of a non- spatially determined constant which recurs across sites associated with THEA: The Techno-centred Imagination (TCI). Finally, the thesis offers a methodological contribution through its novel and creative application of multi-sited research strategy for the study of non-spatially determined cultures of extreme support for science and technology. A 24-month programme of fieldwork was undertaken, comprising multi-locational participant-observation, interviews and surveys. The thesis concludes that far from being new, the emerging social forms associated with THEA capture ambivalences which have long cast a shadow over late-modern society and culture. Although TCI appears most pronounced in the practice of transhumanism - where it is acted out in extreme, almost hyperbolic ways - the phenomena mirrors broader concerns around the future of science, technology and human self-identity in the new millennium. As such, it is deserving of further study.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General)