How Matters of Concern Invade Technologies
The Case of the Menstrual Cup
Markets have evolved from classic markets to concerned markets – that is, markets that focus not only on economic efficiency and the utilitarian matching between supply and demand but also on the negative externalities produced by market products and exchanges. The menstrual cup is used as a good example to address such matters. This device has supplemented disposable tampons and pads, and if the original focus on practical and material dimensions remains (absorbency, lightness, smallness, disposability, etc.), new concerns have invaded the scene. Significantly, in the advertisements for menstrual cups, reusability, recyclability, safety or hypoallergenic issues have replaced the past quest for efficiency and feeling carefree. How have matters of facts and of concern been involved and with what implications? I propose to address this question based on a computer-assisted analysis of 5,235 consumer reviews (posted on Amazon.com) about the Star Cup (pseudonym), a leading product on the market for menstrual cups. The analysis points out that health and sustainability are only two of the many reasons behind the current use of menstrual cups. Various and often conflicting concerns are intertwined in cup consumption. This helps us understand that the development of sustainable technologies requires taking many more elements and dimensions into consideration than mere environmental friendliness.
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