When open source design is vital: critical making of DIY healthcare equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic

Richterich, Annika (2020) When open source design is vital: critical making of DIY healthcare equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Sociology Review, 29 (2). pp. 158-167. ISSN 1446-1242

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Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical devices needed during the COVID-19 pandemic were widely reported in early 2020. In response, civic DIY volunteers explored how they could produce the required equipment. Members of communities such as hacker- and makerspaces employed their skills and tools to manufacture, for example, face shields and masks. The article discusses these civic innovation practices and their broader social implications by relating them to critical making theory. Methodologically, it is based on a digital ethnography approach, focusing on hacker and maker communities in the UK. Communities’ DIY initiatives display characteristics of critical making and ‘craftivism’, as they assessed and counteracted politicised healthcare supply shortages. It is argued that their manufacturing activities during the COVID pandemic relate to UK austerity politics’ effects on healthcare and government failure to ensure medical crisis supplies. Facilitated by open source design, communities’ innovation enabled healthcare emergency equipment. At the same time, their DIY manufacturing raises practical as well as ethical issues concerning, among other things, efficacy and safety of use.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2020 07:32
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2022 12:02
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/92490

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
HACKIT - Hacking your way to IT expertise: What digital societies can (and need to) learn from informal learning in hackerspacesG2721EUROPEAN UNION790777