Making or Making Do? Challenging the Mythologies of Making and Hacking

Morgan G. Ames, Silvia Lindtner, Shaowen Bardzell, Jeffrey Bardzell, Lilly Nguyen, Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed, Nusrat Jahan, Steven J. Jackson, and Paul Dourish. “Making or Making Do? Challenging the Mythologies of Making and Hacking.” Journal of Peer Production, Issue 12, Makerspaces and Institutions (Varia).


While scholars have critically examined the discourse that ‘hacking’ and ‘making’ are empowering practices of individualized technological production and innovation, these stories have largely retained American cultural assumptions. Drawing from fieldwork in Bangladesh, Taiwan, Vietnam, Paraguay, and China, we discuss making and hacking via alternate sociocultural histories, visions, and aspirations. We do this through the lens of ‘making do’: using the materials and competencies on hand to create objects or processes that aid in everyday life, with creativity and innovation countering precarity and marginalization. We intend to decenter the idea of a unified hacker/maker movement, the idea that this movement presents sites of individualized empowerment and selfrealization, and the implicit placing of both within dominant American values. We show that making and hacking can instead express more ambivalent projects, ranging from assertion of local needs and values to situated forms of coping with the depredations and displacements of a neoliberal world.


Last updated:

July 6, 2020