Repair in Socio-technical Systems. The Repair of a Machine Breakdown that Turned into the Repair of a Shop

Cynthia Colmellere


Abstract: This article aims to deepen our understanding of repair work in sociotechnical systems. It is based on three main bodies of literature, which are specifically attentive to materiality: STS studies on repair, studies of breakdowns and technological change in organisation studies and the sociology of work, and occupation studies in industrial workplaces. The present case study deals with a repair of a material device that is used by managers to repair the shop’s organization and restore their authority in the workplace. However, this attempt to repair the shop jeopardizes the repair of the machine. It reveals that the repair of socio-technical system combine different lines of repair – material and organisational, mundane and transformative – which are for some of them complementary, divergent for others.

Keywords: repair; maintenance; organisation; opacity; sociotechnical systems.

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