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Creative Innovation Across Disciplines Seminar Series

Habermas on the High Street: Wearable Tech, Design and Emancipation

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Creative Innovation Across Disciplines is a seminar series taking place in the School of Art & Design, Nottingham Trent University in June - July 2015. Dr Conor Farrington, presents: Habermas on the High Street: Wearable Tech, Design and Emancipation.

  • From: Thursday 28 May 2015, 12 am
  • To: Thursday 28 May 2015, 12 am
  • Location: 3504, Chaucer, Nottingham Trent University, City Campus, Chaucer Street, Nottingham, NG1 5LT
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Event details

As part of the Creative Innovation Across Disciplines seminar series at the School of Art & Design, Dr Conor Farrington presents: Habermas on the High Street: Wearable Tech, Design, and Emancipation.

Short abstract 

The wearable technology market is forecast to reach $70bn by 2024, with leading brands such as Apple and Samsung already developing a wide range of devices including glasses, jewellery, activity monitors, and smart clothing. The highly visible nature of wearables means that their wide uptake will depend not only on their technological capacities but also on their aesthetic design. Wearable technology thus constitutes an important meeting point of science and fashion, raising important questions relating to the variable balance between personal expression and systemic uniformity. This paper will consider these questions from the standpoint of Habermasian critical theory, which considers how systems related to power and money tend to dominate ('colonise') increasing areas of social life, thus placing limits on human emancipation and flourishing. The resulting picture is multifaceted: while fashion allows for individuality, it does so within a wider consumerist system that privileges some aesthetic interpretations at the cost of others; and while technology imposes uniformity, its affordances can also allow for the liberation of choice and expressiveness. Consequently, wearable technology constitutes a complex and ambivalent dimension within both digital and material cultures.

Speaker biography 

Dr Conor Farrington is a Research Associate at the Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), University of Cambridge. His research utilises Weickian and Habermasian social theories to explore and understand user experiences of new medical technology in the fields of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mental illness. He is also interested in the societal and philosophical implications of new technologies and wider movements such as Big Data, the Internet of Things, and Quantified Self. Additional research interests include patient experience, global mental health and stigmas surrounding mental illness, medical humanities, and the relationship between medicine and politics.


If you are interested in attending or for further information please email Dr Iryna Kuksa, or come along on the day of the seminar.

Location details


3504, Chaucer


Nottingham Trent University
City Campus
Chaucer Street

Past event

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