Deborah Lupton: The Internet of Things: Social dimensions

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a vast, dispersed system in which a diverse array of objects, humans, and other living things is connected via “smart” technologies and the Internet. In this article, I present a thematic review of the literature that focuses on the social dimensions of the IoT. Drawing on research published in sociology, anthropology, cultural geography, critical urban studies, science and technology studies, environmental studies, and human–computer interaction studies and design, I outline key conceptual approaches and then discuss four major themes emerging across these dispersed but cognate literatures: (a) techno‐utopian imaginaries, (b) risks and harms, (c) lived experiences, and (d) interventions into futures. As I show, to date, most of the social research literature has focused on the topics of smart cities and smart homes in the context of the Global North. Some researchers have begun to employ innovative methods to generate new and alternative ways of imagining IoT technologies. The article concludes with proposing directions for future research. These include directing more attention to publics' role in intervening in the futures of IoT, to applications of smart technologies beyond the smart city and home, and the IoT in the context of the Global South.

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