Max Stadler
IFK_Research Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2020 bis 31. January 2021

Max Stadler


The Shape of Work: Genealogies of the “User”


The notion that technology is a thing that is shaped socially belongs to the core truisms of Science and Technology Studies. Meanwhile, the bodies of knowledge that, historically speaking, have actually been entangled in such shaping have not received much systematic attention. Problems of human/machine interaction, for one, mobilized a wide variety of experts––including work psychologists, industrial sociologists, management consultants, and designers––throughout the twentieth century. Indeed, the more “work” transformed into a pursuit that was (somehow) both “cognitive” and “post-industrial,” the more vital it became that machines be designed in ways that were efficient, humane, or (at minimum) “user-friendly.” This project tells the history of these intellectual and techno-scientific projects––those involved in the making of the “user”––as well as their contexts: rationalization, automation, and computerization.


Max Stadler received a Ph.D. in the history of science, technology, and medicine from CHoSTM, Imperial College, London, in 2010. His dissertation, “Assembling Life: Models, the Cell, and the Reformations of Biological Science, 1920–1960,” dealt with the pre-history of the neurosciences. His current research interests center on the history of post-industrial labor and the history of “high tech,” as well as histories of “radical” science and critiques of technology since the 1970s. From 2011–20 Max Stadler was a postdoctoral researcher at the Chair for Science Studies, ETH Zurich, and at the Collegium Helveticum, ETH Zurich. Prior to joining the ETH, he was a pre- and postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (2009–10).


gem. mit Monika Dommann und Hannes Rickli (Hg.), Data | Centers. Edges of a Wired Nation, Zürich 2020; gem. mit Monika Wulz und Nils Güttler (Hg.), Deregulation und Restauration. Facetten einer politischen Wissensgeschichte des Neoliberalismus, Berlin 2020; gem. mit Nils Güttler, Niki Rhyner et al., cache 01. Gegenwissen, Zürich 2020.

  • Lecture
Max Stadler

Fast unweigerlich beginnen und enden Erzählungen der „persönlichen“ Computerrevolution in Kalifornien – dem natürlichen Habitat der Garagenbastler, Venture-Kapitalisten und technophilen Gegenkulturen. Dass sich diese Geschichte auch anders erzählen lässt, nämlich als Wissensgeschichte postindustrieller Arbeitswelten, zeigt Max Stadler.