Institute for Advanced Study Presents

Allison Pugh: “Therapy Apps and Virtual Nurses”

IAS Thursdays
Jan 2019
About the Event

Some jobs have relationships at their core, depending upon a personal, emotional connection between practitioners and recipients. Efforts to make such "connective labor" more standardized, predictable, even automated, often depend on the premise that checklists or apps are "better than nothing." The expansion of data needs shrinks the available time practitioners have to pursue the relationships they view as integral to their success. Yet perhaps surprisingly, low-income people sometimes prefer the alternatives. Based on more than 100 interviews and more than 300 hours of observation, Allison Pugh, Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, argues that the contemporary degradation of connective labor, particularly for disadvantaged people, makes its automation more acceptable. She asks what connective labor has in common across fields, and how we might make that work more systematic without getting in its way.