MISC Talk: Lynn Dombrowski

Date: 
Tue, 12/11/2018 - 11:30am

Ehrlicher Room, 3100 North Quad

Designing within capitalism: What are key challenges in building just futures of work? 

Abstract

Capitalism is when private entities control the means of production. It has been critiqued as causing vast social and economic inequality. Where might designers be able to intervene within the pervasive social and economic problems created by capitalism?

My research examines wage theft, which is when a worker is legally denied benefits or wages by their employer or manager. Wage theft is a pervasive and massive problem for low-wage workers in capitalist systems. In this talk, I discuss empirical results from interviews with low-wage workers, employers, pro-worker advocates, and computing technologists. I highlight key challenges that inhibit just futures of work within capitalism, including material and institutional constraints, overt politics, and compromised resistance tactics.

Specifically, I describe the data, design, and technology-oriented activist practices of pro-worker advocates and the compromises and constraints they encounter when working with and advocating on behalf of low-wage workers. These practices can inform the design strategies and outcomes of computing technologists designing socio-technical tools to address wage theft. Lastly, I conclude with insights for research and practice. 

About the speaker

Lynn Dombrowski is an assistant professor in Informatics at Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis (IUPUI). Her primary focus is within Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and design research. She focuses on understanding, designing, and evaluating technologies that work to address social issues and seeks to identify key sociotechnical strategies for dealing with oppression and social inequalities. She often works alongside marginalized communities and community partners. 

Michigan Interactive and Social Computing (MISC) research group connects researchers studying human-computer interaction, social computing and computer-supported collaborative work across the University of Michigan.