MEC vs. STS

The literature on the military-entertainment complex (or military-industrial-entertainment network) tends to focus on the transfer of money and technologies between the military and the entertainment industry. The media produced are seen explicitly as expressions of militaristic ideology (particularly by sanitizing war and turning it into a pleasurable consumer commodity). But in science and technology studies, we are more interested in actor-networks: how does each group that comes together in this work benefit?

This is especially important to take into account when investigating the military-industrial complex because many of these media projects are also <i>research</i> projects: research into human-computer interaction and its application for military needs such as recruitment and training, primarily, but also into basic science including questions of what it is possible to build (like new virtual reality interface equipment).

STS approaches to the MEC help us to ask questions not only about ideology and imagery, but about the knowledge being produced, how it becomes legitimized, and whether it can actually impact military doctrines rather than just reflect them. Scholars only looking at, say, the development of military video games and the stories they tell cannot tell us what information is being collected, how it is being processed, and relationship to militaristic worldviews.

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One thought on “MEC vs. STS

  1. Right on!

    There’s a fascinating research group at UTD that has taken first-person shooter technology from the video game industry (with all the complexities and problems already inherent in that technology) and re-purposed it into a non-violent first-person “cultural trainer” for the military, to help them train for cultural sensitivity and negotiating with the locals, etc. Now they have taken that same platform and re-purposed it again as a trainer for teachers heading in to schools in lower-income areas of the US. That would be an actor-network to trace!

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