Sustaining Silicon Valley: Material Politics in a time of Social and Ecological Crisis.
Disruptive Fixation: School Reform and the Pitfalls of Techno-Idealism. 2017. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Princeton Studies in Culture and Technology, Tom Boellstorff and Bill Maurer series editors)
- Winner of the 2018 Best Book Award from the Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology (CITAMS) section of the American Sociological Association.
- Reviewed in: American Anthropology Association’s Book Forum; Contemporary Sociology; Technology and Culture; Mind, Culture, and Activity; Learning, Media and Technology; Pedagogies; New Media & Society; Weekendavisen (Denmark); Transfers.
“The chronicle of a failure foretold, this remarkably reflexive ethnography of a project aiming at reinventing education via digital devices, managerial transformations, and philanthropic initiatives is an important fable for our times of techno-idealism. Its sobering morality is a call for modesty, lucidity, and honesty with regards to the permanent request for innovation, the immoderate pretension to avant-gardism, and the inflationary rhetoric of cutting-edge research, from which the social sciences themselves are not exempt.”
—Didier Fassin, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton
“Sims’s book is rich in conceptual tools for analyzing school reform movements. It offers a brilliant explanation for their persistent failures. He argues that projects of reform move through ‘cycles of disruptive fixation’ that consolidate rather than dissolve class, racial, and gendered inequities. He punctures the hype about techno-philanthropic nostrums for what ails public education. Though some of what he has to tell us is hard to hear, his searching critique is clearly the work of a scholar of concerned and generous spirit. The book should be required reading for anyone who finds themselves the agent or target of similarly misguided benevolence.”
—Jean Lave, University of California, Berkeley
“How do the engines of educational reform so often drive us back to the status quo? Decades ago, the computer industry promised us the tools to transform our schools. Why haven’t they worked? In this richly researched analysis, Christo Sims answers these questions and points the way toward new and more effective modes of technological intervention. This book should be required reading for anyone thinking about learning and technology today.”
—Fred Turner, Stanford University
“Anyone holding Sims’s book will have at hand— literally—a reminder of how reformers’ dreams of using technology’s magical power to shape a perfect future tend to persist, even in the face of real-world constraints and ethical concerns.”
— Amy Sue Bix, Technology and Culture
“Christo Sims gives us a front-row seat to an effort to ‘disrupt’ public schooling with new technology. The story that emerges, in all its messy particularities, shows the way that such efforts often reinforce the very structures that they set out to change. There are powerful lessons here for education, but also for those other domains of public life where the language of technological disruption echoes.”
—Paul Dourish, University of California, Irvine
“A first-of-its-kind addition to the field. Sims gives us a rich and nuanced picture of the everyday, even mundane ways that privilege and inequity insinuate themselves into an ambitious reformist project, often undermining intentions. He astutely and sympathetically shows how all involved often end up reproducing patterns and structures they set out to challenge.”
—T. L. Taylor, author of Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming
“A valuable book about education-reform movements, technology, and American anxieties.”
—Shamus Rahman Khan, author of Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School
Digital Media and Technology in Afterschool Programs, Libraries, and Museums. 2011. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (with Becky Herr-Stephenson, Diana Rhoten, and Dan Perkel)
Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media. 2010. Cambridge: MIT Press. (with Mizuko Ito, Sonja Baumer, Matteo Bittanti, danah boyd, Rachel Cody, Becky Herr-Stephenson, Heather A. Horst, Patricia G. Lange, Dilan Mahendran, Katynka Martinez, C.J. Pascoe, Dan Perkel, Laura Robinson, and Lisa Tripp)
- Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: 10th Anniversary Edition. 2019. Cambridge: MIT Press.
SELECT ARTICLES & ESSAYS
If you do not have access, please feel free to email me for pre-prints.
“Green Magic: On Technologies of Enchantment at Apple’s Corporate Headquarters.” 2022. Public Culture, 34(2).
“Living Theory: Gender Play and Learning to Live a Life Less Ordinary” in Gender Replay: Reflections on Youth, Feminism, and Schools. 2022. Oeur, F.O. and C.J. Pascoe (eds.). New York: NYU Press.
“Learning, Technology, and the Instrumentalization of Critique” in The Anthropology of Technology: A Handbook. 2021. London: Palgrave.
“Pedagogic Fixations” in The Digital Age and Its Discontents. 2020. Helsinki, Finland: Helsinki University Press.
“How Idealistic High-Tech Schools Often Fail to Help Poor Kids Get Ahead,” in Zócalo Public Square, June 13, 2019.
“Idealism” in Keywords for Ethnography & Design, a special issue of Theorizing the Contemporary, an editorially-reviewed online publication of the journal Cultural Anthropology. 2018.
“The Politics of Design, Design as Politics” in The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography. 2017. New York: Routledge. Download author’s pre-print
“From Differentiated Use to Differentiating Practices: Negotiating Legitimate Participation and the Production of Privileged Identities.” 2014. Information Communication & Society, 17(6), pp.670–682.
“‘Video Game Culture,’ Contentious Masculinities, and Reproducing Racialized Social Class Divisions in Middle School.” 2014. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 39(4), pp.848–857.
“Is it Time to Rethink ‘Digital Inequality’ (Again)?” 2013. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research 14.0. Denver, CO: Association of Internet Researchers.