This thesis develops an intersectional, critical analysis of the field of practice known as Civic Tech and highlights other relevant community-organizing and activist practices that utilize technology as a central component. First, I develop critiques of Civic Tech as a dominant technocratic, neoliberal approach to democracy and bureaucracy and trace the history and intellectual genealogy of this specific movement. I then highlight civic technologies outside of the field of Civic Tech that have resulted in more redistributive and democratic outcomes, especially for Black people and other people of color. Finally, I define a research and design practice called Critical Community Technology Pedagogy that is demystificatory, multi-directional, transferable, and constructive, and draws upon examples from the Civic Lab for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR) in Newfoundland, Data DiscoTechs in Detroit, and the Center for Urban Pedagogy in New York City.
About Maya Wagoner
Maya Wagoner is a civic user experience designer, user researcher, and technologist passionate about critical pedagogy and democratizing technology. She has collaborated with organizations such as The Engine Room, Brooklyn Public Library, the Emerson College Engagement Lab, Open Technology Institute, Invest in Open Infrastructure, and Mozilla on fostering equity and democratic technologies through participatory methods. She currently resides in Los Angeles.
Thesis: Technology Against Technocracy: Toward Design Strategies for Critical Community Technology