Visions of the future: technology and imagination in Hungarian civil society

  • Tom Wormald University of Manchester

Abstract

The question of ‘new’ methods in the anthropology of science and technology is perhaps better phrased as the need to improve our understanding of experiences—as both participants and observers—of these fields of enquiry. This paper is based on ethnographic research on the role of computers in Hungarian civil society at the Hungarian Telecottage Association (HTA), a movement seeking to promote locally-oriented technological development with the aim of empowering and improving the lives of local people. The members of this movement are geographically dispersed, each representing a telecottage in their own village community. They are united organizationally through a mixture of face-to-face and internet-based interaction.

Author Biography

Tom Wormald, University of Manchester
Tom Wormald completed his fieldwork on the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the developing civil society in Hungary at the end of 2003. He spent two years working there as a volunteer for two large NGOs. He chose to examine the role of ICTs as they represent a significant symbol of the ‘future’ in a country which continues to undergo dramatic and far reaching political, economic and social change, following the collapse of the socialist system in 1989. He is now in Manchester writing up his thesis, due for completion in the summer of 2005. He has also been working as webmaster for the European Association of Social Anthropologists for the past five years.