Umeå University's logo

umu.sePublications
Change search
Refine search result
1 - 4 of 4
CiteExportLink to result list
Permanent link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Rows per page
  • 5
  • 10
  • 20
  • 50
  • 100
  • 250
Sort
  • Standard (Relevance)
  • Author A-Ö
  • Author Ö-A
  • Title A-Ö
  • Title Ö-A
  • Publication type A-Ö
  • Publication type Ö-A
  • Issued (Oldest first)
  • Issued (Newest first)
  • Created (Oldest first)
  • Created (Newest first)
  • Last updated (Oldest first)
  • Last updated (Newest first)
  • Disputation date (earliest first)
  • Disputation date (latest first)
  • Standard (Relevance)
  • Author A-Ö
  • Author Ö-A
  • Title A-Ö
  • Title Ö-A
  • Publication type A-Ö
  • Publication type Ö-A
  • Issued (Oldest first)
  • Issued (Newest first)
  • Created (Oldest first)
  • Created (Newest first)
  • Last updated (Oldest first)
  • Last updated (Newest first)
  • Disputation date (earliest first)
  • Disputation date (latest first)
Select
The maximal number of hits you can export is 250. When you want to export more records please use the Create feeds function.
  • 1.
    Berge, Maria
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
    Mendick, Heather
    Freelance Academic, UK.
    Andreas, Ottemo
    Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Silfver, Eva
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Walking the line of being a geek or not: race, gender and re-surfacing stereotypes2023In: ECER 2023: Programme, EERA , 2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Who is a geek? In popular media the geeks are often portrayed as the school’s losers who perform well in school but have low status (Salter and Blodget, 2017). The low status of the geek/nerd/swot/boffin in schools has had the implication of making it less attractive to study hard (Francis 2009, Jackson & Nyström, 2015). This is especially true for male students who do a balancing act to not be categorised as a geek or nerd (Asp-Onsjö & Öhrn, 2015; Nyström, 2012; Peltola & Phoenix, 2022). Different negative traits are connected to the geek label, such as not caring what to wear and not being sporty, and sometimes boys perform purposely less well in school to avoid this label (Nyström 2012). At the same time as this geek figure is ‘congenitally uncool’ the geek figure has always been strongly connected to science, technology and computer science, and the position of being a genius (Willey & Subramaniam, 2017). The idea of brilliant geekiness has been so powerful that people seeking to hire computer programmers have looked for signs of it as proof of intelligence and programming ability (Kendal 1999). The geek figure, the awkward genius, primarily white and male, has thus gatekeeping functions in technology.

    However, over the last decades the geek label has shifted significantly: from historically being associated with mockery and an outsider position, the geek has become increasingly dominant both in popular media as well as in economic and cultural structures (Salter and Blodget, 2017; Tocci 2009). This shift is partly displayed in how geeks are celebrated in real life, for example Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, but also how the geek figure has become a central one in popular media. The geek entrepreneur in movies such as Iron man and The Social Network answers ‘contemporary tensions within masculinity and capitalism’ (Mendick et al, 2021, p. 2). According to Tocci (2009), there are four overlapping images of geeks today: the Geek as a misfit, the Geek as a genius, the Geek as a fan and ‘Geek as chic’. The Geek as a misfit has low status and is awkward and the Geek as a genius (with the example of Bill Gates) is passionate about technology. Both these images are in line with how a geek has traditionally been conceived before. However, the Geek as a fan is described as into geeky hobbies (such as games, science-fiction, and other traditionally geeky media), but with a ‘shared sense of childlike playfulness, and potentially a purposeful resistance against broader norms of maturity’ (p. 322), which is not necessarily a low status position. The image of Geek as chic makes it not just okay to be a geek, but it is actually a high-status position, the geeks are thought to represent their own hip subculture of sorts and their own sense of style. 

    How big this shift or movement is around the geek figure is contested and needs to be investigated, especially how the limits and borders have changed in relation to race and gender. There is also an urgent need to address if the geek figure still operates as gatekeeper to technology education. The aim of this study is to explore this shift around the geek figure by interviewing Swedish teenagers about what they think about geeks and geekiness today.  

    Methods/methodology: We did group interviews with 32 students doing their third year in upper secondary school, all being 18-19 years old. These 32 students, 21 boys and 11 girls, were classmates in three different school programmes: the Natural Science Programme, the Technology Programme and the Social Science Programme. The students were asked about what a geek is and how it is possible to know if someone is a geek. We also asked if they saw themselves as geeks and if there are any good or bad sides of being a geek. To prompt them to speak of geekiness, we showed them four clips of people handling technology from four US films: Men in Black (1997) featuring Agent J, The Social Network (2010) a biopic of Mark Zuckerberg, Age of Ultron (2015) with Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, and The Black Panther (2018) with the Princess of Wakanda Shuri teasing her brother T’Challa/Black Panther.

    In our analysis we focused on how the geek figure was positioned by the students in the interviews, how the students related to the geek figure themselves and how the movie characters in the four selected clips were perceived by the students. The first step in our analysis was, after listening to all the interviews carefully, to select instances where geekiness or geeks were described, looking for storylines of geekiness: How do the students position the geek figure? Positioning is the discursive process that people use in conversations to arrange social structures (Davies and Harré, 1990), where positionings can be deliberate, inadvertent, presumptive or taken for granted (Harré et al., 2009). Positionings are always twofold, in that a positioning of someone else also implies a positioning of oneself, so what they express about geeks gives us clues about their own relationship to geekiness. Storylines that are linked to cultural contexts beyond the actual conversation unfold as participants are engaged in positioning themselves and others (Davies and Harré, 1990; Harré and Langenhove, 1999), for example that the geek has suffered and has unhealed wounds (Mendick et al, 2021) or the idea of STEM being a meritocracy (Willey & Subramaniam, 2017). We also analysed how the movie characters Agent J, Mark Zuckerberg, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, and Shuri and T’Challa were positioned by the students, with a special focus on race and gender.

    Expected outcomes/results: Our results illustrate how upper secondary Swedish students position geeks as belonging to one of two storylines: The storyline of the modern geek where it is cool to be a geek and the position is non-gendered and non-racialised, and The storyline of the stereotypical geek where the geek is white, male, socially awkward, and primally interested in technology. Since the students use the word ‘stereotypical’ when they talk about the low-status geek it is tempting to believe that this position is only a remnant of timed passed, but this storyline is still active in their narratives. For example, they position people at their own school as stereotypical geeks. These two storylines were interlinked. In the storyline of the modern geek the geek position is open for everyone, but this idea was simply not coherent with how many students did not let the character Shuri pass as a geek. The arguments for not positioning her as a geek (apart from being a woman and black), were that Shuri was too good-looking, too well-dressed and too social. Among all the characters we presented to participants, the character of Shuri was the one the students perceived as least authentic. This is interesting, because they continued saying that ‘[today] anyone can become a geek’ and that gender, race, class, and sexuality have no significance. In our reading, this parallel view of what a geek is keeps the myth of a geek meritocracy (Willey & Subramaniam, 2017) intact, at the same time as they clearly were more hesitant to position black women as geeks. Therefore, our data indicates that hopes that the pluralized modern geek position, i.e. ‘the geek is chic’ (Tocci, 2009) will provide a gateway into STEM for black female students are not well-founded.

  • 2.
    Mendick, Heather
    et al.
    Independent.
    Berge, Maria
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
    Silfver, Eva
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Ottemo, Andreas
    Göteborgs universitet.
    Popular culture geeks, suffering, revenge and mathematics2020Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    From The Big Bang Theory to Stranger Things, geek characters areincreasingly central to contemporary popular culture. They may beprimarily into technology or science but this is always grounded inextraordinary mathematical skills. As Tony Stark says in Iron Man “If mymath is right, and it always is...”. In this article, we map one aspect of howthe pop culture geek is represented: suffering-revenge narratives. We usethe Mark Zuckerberg biopic The Social Network as an archetypal exampleand argue that while suffering and revenge have always been part of geekrepresentations, they are increasingly taking on misogynistic forms. Thesenarratives legitimate the gendered policing of online geek spaces andwider sexism. As a contrast, we look at working-class Latina female geekBetty Aurora Rincón in the television series Betty en NY showing how sheresponds to suffering with forgiveness and empathy rather than revenge.

    Download full text (pdf)
    fulltext
  • 3.
    Ottemo, Andreas
    et al.
    University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Berge, Maria
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
    Mendick, Heather
    Independent Academic, UK.
    Silfver, Eva
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Geek nostalgia: the reflective and restorative defence of white male geek culture2024In: New Media and Society, ISSN 1461-4448, E-ISSN 1461-7315Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    During recent decades, geek culture has become increasingly visible, and the geek has left the cultural margins, becoming more popular than ever. At the same time, nostalgia has emerged as a central component of geek culture. Framed by a post-structural understanding of gender and race and drawing on cultural theorist Svetlana Boym’s distinction between reflective and restorative nostalgia, this article explores how and why geeks nostalgically long for a time when they were largely marginalized. We combine readings of Swedish online geek podcasts and YouTube channels with ethnographic visits to geek conferences and pop-cultural “geek fairs,” such as Comic Con and SciFiWorld. We argue that geek nostalgia represents a clinging on to a “constitutive wound,” allowing the geek figure to mobilize masculine victimhood in ways that simultaneously underpin geek privilege and allow the geek to continue operating as a white male gatekeeper of geek culture.

    Download full text (pdf)
    fulltext
  • 4.
    Ottemo, Andreas
    et al.
    Department of Education and Special Education, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Berge, Maria
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
    Mendick, Heather
    Independent Academic, London, UK.
    Silfver, Eva
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Gender, passion, and 'sticky' technology in a voluntaristically-organized technology makerspace2023In: Engineering Studies, ISSN 1937-8629, E-ISSN 1940-8374, Vol. 15, no 2, p. 101-121Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    As 'open' and supposedly inclusive informal learning settings that participants visit out of interest and passion, there has been hope that makerspaces will democratize technology and challenge traditional gender patterns in engineering education. Passion for technology has, however, also been shown to be deeply intertwined with the masculinization of engineering. This article explores how this tension manifests among engineering students and other makers at an 'open' voluntaristically-organized technology makerspace located at the campus of a Swedish university of technology. It draws on a post-structural understanding of gender and Sara Ahmed’s queer phenomenological conceptualization of emotions as 'orienting devices'. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with makers, we show how passion for technology is articulated as a particularly absorbing emotion that underpins a playful approach to technology and a framing of makers as single-minded and asocial. We demonstrate how passion for technology thereby becomes a homosocial 'glue' that makes technology 'sticky' for only a select group of techno-passionate men. We conclude that this undermines the potential for 'making' to democratize technology and puts into question the degree to which interest-driven, voluntaristic and 'authentic' settings for engaging with technology can contribute to pluralizing engineering.

    Download full text (pdf)
    fulltext
1 - 4 of 4
CiteExportLink to result list
Permanent link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf