Trained as a cultural anthropologist, Dr Adam Sargent’s research focuses on capitalist development, labor, infrastructure, and social inequality. He has explored these issues through research projects on construction work in India and engineering work in the United States. He is currently a Research Fellow at the Western Sydney University node of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Automated Decision-Making and Society. Adam will contribute to the People Program, where his research will explore the uneven implementations of ADM technologies across the Global South.
Adam’s previous research on construction in India examines the construction site as a complex regime of exploitation, jointly crafted by global, regional, and local actors. It tracks the socio-material dimensions of worker precarity produced on the construction site and the techniques workers deploy in response. It demonstrates how everyday negotiations of precarity on the site generate the patterns of profit and exclusion that mark India’s urban transformations.
He has also conducted research on labor and inequality in engineering work in the United States. While decidedly white-collar, engineering work has become more precarious as the increasing adoption of automated technologies transforms the nature of engineering work.
As a member of the ADM+S Centre, Adam’s research will explore the uneven implementations of ADM technologies by mapping contextually specific engagements with ADM across the Global South. In addition to this comparative research, he will conduct ethnographic research on the growing use of automated loans in India. These loans operate through mobile phone apps that collect personal data (e.g., location data, phone contacts, social media activity) from users and rely on algorithms to assess creditworthiness. This research will illuminate how algorithmic credit scoring systems are transforming access to and experiences of credit and debt in India and provide insights into the role of ADM in financial inclusion more generally.