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Making sustainability : how Fab Labs address environmental issues

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dc.contributor Aalto-yliopisto fi
dc.contributor Aalto University en
dc.contributor.advisor Hyysalo, Sampsa, Prof., Aalto University, School of Arts, Design, and Architecture, Finland en
dc.contributor.author Kohtala, Cindy
dc.date.accessioned 2016-08-31T09:01:16Z
dc.date.available 2016-08-31T09:01:16Z
dc.date.issued 2016
dc.identifier.isbn 978-952-60-6662-2 (electronic)
dc.identifier.isbn 978-952-60-6661-5 (printed)
dc.identifier.issn 1799-4942 (electronic)
dc.identifier.issn 1799-4934 (printed)
dc.identifier.issn 1799-4934 (ISSN-L)
dc.identifier.uri https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/handle/123456789/21755
dc.description.abstract Digital manufacturing technologies are proliferating and can enable socially significant, innovative new forms of production and consumption. This thesis examines the environmental sustainability issues in peer production and how they are addressed in Fab Labs (fabrication laboratories): shared spaces where users can design and make their own artefacts outside of conventional mass production channels, using, for example, laser cutters, 3D printers and electronics stations. Fab Labs are open to members of the general public, who learn to use the equipment themselves and are encouraged (or required) to document and openly share their projects. ‘Making’ in Fab Labs and the ‘maker movement’ are often endorsed by proponents as a better alternative to mass consumption and consumerism, whether through enhancing skills to build and repair, answering one’s own needs as opposed to ‘satisficing’ through passive consumption, or distributing production within local networks as opposed to long, transport-intensive and large-volume supply chains. However, Fab Labs and makerspaces are contexts rife with paradox and complexity concerning appropriate use of materials and energy. Little empirical research on material peer production currently exists, and the environmental impacts, and benefits, of digital fabrication are largely unknown. Primarily through ethnographic research methods and Symbolic Interactionist analysis, the thesis examines daily practices and discourses in selected Fab Labs and how sustainability is represented in these communities. The findings articulate how the actors’ interactions, expressed intents and contextual conditions serve to shape the Fab Lab. The key finding is the conflict actors encounter between – on the one hand – setting ambitions, promoting particular ideologies and espousing sustainability-oriented values, and – on the other hand – realizing and enacting these values in the mundane and constraining routines of everyday practice. Even actors with a clear ecological mandate struggle to engage with emerging sustainability issues in a rapidly changing sociotechnical environment. Present topics of concern and everyday tasks overshadow future strategy and vision work as well as engagement with environmental issues and rapid technology developments. However, actors who consciously and visibly strive to enact the espoused Fab Lab ideology, i.e. offering access to empowering, distributed technologies that enable people to meet their own local needs by design, appear better able to identify and tackle the environmental sustainability issues as they arise. Environmental issues are also intertwined with and embedded in other ideological concerns, but they are rarely promoted in their own right. The thesis also details the current landscape of research literature on distributed production, who is studying these environmental issues and how, and the potential opportunities and threats in this new mode of production. The thesis thereby contributes to research on peer production communities, social shaping of technology and sustainable design. Knowledge of current maker practices and their sustainability implications have value for the peer communities studied, but also potentially technology developers and policy makers. As Fab Labs are experimental spaces for new digital manufacturing capabilities and activities, the wider implications of the findings may indicate how increasing digitalization and citizen involvement in production will transform design and production – and the sustainability implications therein. en
dc.format.extent 125
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher Aalto University en
dc.publisher Aalto-yliopisto fi
dc.relation.ispartofseries Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS en
dc.relation.ispartofseries 29/2016
dc.relation.haspart [Publication 1]: Kohtala, C., 2015. Addressing sustainability in research on distributed production: an integrated literature review. Journal of Cleaner Production 106, 654-668. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.09.039 (Full text is included in the PDF file of the dissertation.)
dc.relation.haspart [Publication 2]: Kohtala, C., Hyysalo, S., 2015. Anticipated environmental sustainability of personal fabrication. Journal of Cleaner Production 99, 333–344. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.02.093 (Full text is included in the PDF file of the dissertation.)
dc.relation.haspart [Publication 3]: Kohtala, C., Bosqué, C., 2014. The Story of MIT-Fablab Norway: Community Embedding of Peer Production. Journal of Peer Production 5. http://peerproduction.net/issues/issue-5-shared-machine-shops/peerreviewed- articles/the-story-of-mit-fablab-norway-community-embeddingof-peer-production/ (Full text is included in the PDF file of the dissertation.)
dc.relation.haspart [Publication 4]: Kohtala, C. Making ‘Making’ Critical: How Sustainability is Constituted in Fab Lab Ideology. Unpublished, in review. (Full text is included in the PDF file of the dissertation.)
dc.subject.other Environmental science en
dc.subject.other Mechanical engineering en
dc.title Making sustainability : how Fab Labs address environmental issues en
dc.type G5 Artikkeliväitöskirja fi
dc.contributor.school Taiteiden ja suunnittelun korkeakoulu fi
dc.contributor.school School of Arts, Design and Architecture en
dc.contributor.department Muotoilun laitos fi
dc.contributor.department Department of Design en
dc.subject.keyword Fab Labs en
dc.subject.keyword environmental sustainability en
dc.subject.keyword digital fabrication en
dc.subject.keyword distributed production en
dc.subject.keyword peer production en
dc.identifier.urn URN:ISBN:978-952-60-6662-2
dc.type.dcmitype text en
dc.type.ontasot Doctoral dissertation (article-based) en
dc.type.ontasot Väitöskirja (artikkeli) fi
dc.contributor.supervisor Hyysalo, Sampsa, Prof., Aalto University, School of Arts, Design, and Architecture, Finland en
dc.opn Smith, Adrian, Prof., University of Sussex, United Kingdom
dc.date.defence 2016-03-11

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