Understanding Technology Choices and Values through Social Class

Morgan G. Ames, Janet Go, Joseph ‘Jofish’ Kaye, and Mirjana Spasojevic. “Understanding Technology Choices and Values through Social Class.” Proceedings of CSCW 2011, ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing. ACM Press, March 2011, 55-64.


This ethnographic study of 22 diverse families in the San Francisco Bay Area provides a holistic account of parents' attitudes about their children's use of technology. We found that parents from different socioeconomic classes have different values and practices around technology use, and that those values and practices reflect structural differences in their everyday lives. Calling attention to class differences in technology use challenges the prevailing practice in human-computer interaction of designing for those similar to oneself, which often privileges middle-class values and practices. By discussing the differences between these two groups and the advantages of researching both, this research highlights the benefits of explicitly engaging with socioeconomic status as a category of analysis in design.


Last updated:

July 6, 2020