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Title: The ideology of ergonomics
Authors: Wilkin, P
Keywords: Ideology; Philosophy; Positivism; Science; Social science; Ethics
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Citation: Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science. 11(3): 230-244, Mar 2009
Abstract: This paper examines the positivist and empiricist philosophical ideas that underpin mainstream ergonomics and argues that they undermine the discipline's ability to properly theorise the nature of the social world. Instead and as a consequence of these largely implicit philosophical beliefs ergonomics is an ideological discipline whose social use is largely shaped to reflect the interests of dominant social institutions, whether public or private, that tend to control the workplace. Arguing from the perspective of critical social science the paper says that questions of design are central to debates about the good society (how people should live) as indeed some ergonomic researchers have recently begun to argue. The task of the paper is to help encourage such debate within the discipline by clarifying what it sees as the ideological role that ergonomics plays in society and how this ideology is, in turn, reflected in its philosophical assumptions. The importance of the paper for ergonomic theory is that it highlights the need for the discipline to engage in a critical manner with its philosophical assumptions. It does this by exposing the problematic nature of its positivist philosophy, arguing that as a consequence of the latter ergonomics in practice is an ideological discipline.
ISSN: 1463-922X
Appears in Collections:Ergonomics
Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Research Papers

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