Choose Your Future: A feminist perspective on Construction 4.0 as Techno-Utopia or Digital Dystopia

Barrett, Jennifer Eve orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6795-1615 (2020) Choose Your Future: A feminist perspective on Construction 4.0 as Techno-Utopia or Digital Dystopia. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Management, Procurement and Law, 173 (1). pp. 1-5. ISSN 1751-4304

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In 2017, the Chancellor of the Exchequer launched the UK Industrial Strategy, inviting us to “choose the future.” Via government support for and investment in digital innovation, particularly in the construction industry and public infrastructure, the Strategy aimed to stimulate the UK’s industrial productivity and wealth. This paper examines the Industrial Strategy by applying it within the context of the utopian/dystopian literature genre, and through a feminist lens. The paper finds that the Strategy looks set to deliver outcomes similar to themes of dystopian literature genre which imagine that technological progress can only achieved at the expense of social equity, suggesting that the currently gendered idea of Construction 4.0 could exacerbate current gender divisions and inequalities that currently blight the construction industry. Given more balanced strategic support and investment, Construction 4.0 might actually, in a new reality, offer opportunities to resolve issues of gender equity in the industry. The paper concludes with a timely call to researchers and industry professionals to intersect gender inclusivity across all aspects of future research, innovation, and strategy in relation to Construction 4.0, so that the chosen future will support the careers and contributions of all genders that choose to participate in it

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