Davis, Jenny L. How Artifacts Afford: The Power and Politics of Everyday Things.

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Author: Krysten Stein
Date: Mar. 2021
From: Communication Research Trends(Vol. 40, Issue 1)
Publisher: Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture
Document Type: Book review
Length: 1,100 words
Lexile Measure: 1300L

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Davis, Jenny L. How Artifacts Afford: The Power and Politics of Everyday Things. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 2020. Pp. 208. ISBN: 9780262044110 (cloth) $30.00

How Artifacts Afford: The Power and Politics of Everyday Things, a groundbreaking text, delves into affordance theory, providing a much-needed update of the theory's underpinnings historically, conceptually, politically, and methodologically. Davis draws connections about affordances across fields and disciplines, continuously weaving in the ideology that technological artifacts are both powerful and political. The book eloquently pieces together work from multiple scholars and perspectives to bring clarity and salience to the term affordance. Introducing the mechanisms and conditions framework, Davis uses it to show the relationship that takes place between technology, affordances, and society. She argues the mechanisms and conditions framework shifts affordance analysis to ask how artifacts afford, rather than what artifacts afford. Applying a critical lens throughout the book, she successfully communicates her goals and thesis by a strategic organization and a meaningful, exciting writing style that makes it easy to comprehend her examples and vocabulary.

How Artifacts Afford has seven chapters. Most can be read either all together or independently of the others (minus Chapters 4 and 5, which should be read as a unit). Chapter 1, "Introduction," provides a great overview to the whole book. Chapter 2, "A Brief History of Affordances," provides a linear deep dive into the intellectual history and lineage of affordances and transitions from the historical to the theoretical. Chapter 3, "Politics and Power," draws the distinction between actor-network theory (ANT) and affordance analysis while focusing on both the political and theoretical foundation of the mechanisms and conditions framework. After this foundation, Chapters...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A656312315