Beyond breakdown: Exploring Regimes of Maintenance

Discard Studies

By Jérôme Denis, David Pontille
This article was originally published in continent 6(1) under a CC BY 2.0 license. 

Mending, repairing, fixing, restoring, preserving, cleaning, recycling, up-keeping… an immense variety of more or less noticeable practices take part in the maintenance of objects, technologies and infrastructures. In this article we would like to make a first step into questioning such diversity. How can we understand the differences in the ways things are taken care of? What can we learn from the variety of justifications for objects to be mended, fixed, patched up, or patiently restored? In which conditions are these operations considered as important or negligible? To address these questions, we propose to examine three dimensions that we think can help in identifying regimes of maintenance: the distribution of maintenance practices, the kinds of objects that are enacted through them, and the ecology of the visible and invisible at…

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