Technology Adoption Dynamics of the Press Workers in Bangladesh


Syed Faiz Ahmed (Dhaka Tribune)
Pratyasha Saha (University of Dhaka)
S M Taiabul Haque (University of Central Missouri)


Session: 2.3. Technology adoption and politics

Abstract: To protect under-represented and marginalized workers from the upcoming automation boom, it is imperative to critically examine the past technological breakthroughs and their impacts on workers. In the last two decades of the twentieth century, computer-aided newspaper production technology gradually started becoming popular in Bangladesh, making the traditional hot metal typesetting technology obsolete. The typesetters, who relied on manual labor and a very basic level of literacy, experienced mass layoffs and had to adapt to new technology to survive in their profession. In this work, we interviewed 17 typesetters from that period to understand their technology adoption dynamics. Our findings reveal that despite a few success stories, most of the typesetters failed to adopt and gradually went into oblivion, mainly because of local infrastructural issues. We connect our findings to broader issues of culture, politics, and economics and provide concrete suggestions and policy recommendations to protect more than six million workers who are vulnerable to technology-induced job displacement in the next 20 years in Bangladesh.