<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

All sorts of social relations and interactions shape technology, an argument also affirmed by Volti (2008). For him, we must always consider the entire set of social relations and structures require to design, develop, produce, distribute and even use technology. For Volti that means that social organization is an important dimension of technology. (p. 5). Schematically, he then defines technology as a system produced by humans that employs knowledge and organization to make objects and developed techniques for the achievement of specific goals (Volti 2008). Technology is then a combination of devices, skills and organizational structures. A good example is production technology. When social scientists speak of production technologies, they speak not only of tools and equipment, but also of the physical design of production processes, the technical division of labor, the actual deployment of labor powers, the levels of social cooperation and conflict, the chains of command and hierarchies of authority and the particular methods of coordination and control used (Harvey 1999). Hence, production technology is not limited to tools and instruments of manual operation in the labor process but also to the total set of social relations and structures necessary to design, develop, manufacture, distribute and even use devices and the production technology itself.

Some exercises

Exercise 1: Think Critically

Ponder the following question: Is the I-phone a technology? Why?

Exercise 2: Think Critically

Ponder the following questions posed by Rudi Volti (2008) in his book Society and Technological Change :

  1. Do all technologies require material artifacts of some sort? Why?
  2. Does it make any sense to speak of bureaucracy as a kind of technology? Why?

Exercise 3: What do you think?

Taylorism is a factory management system developed in the 19 th century to increase efficiency by evaluating every step in the manufacturing process and breaking down production into specialized repetitive tasks. ( (External Link) ). It was developed by Frederick W. Taylor. His “scientific management” of labor and manufacturing processes consisted of four principles:

  1. Replace rule-of-thumb work methods with methods based on a scientific study of the tasks.
  2. Scientifically select, train, and develop each employee rather than passively leaving them to train themselves.
  3. Provide "Detailed instruction and supervision of each worker in the performance of that worker's discrete task".
  4. Divide work nearly equally between managers and workers, so that the managers apply scientific management principles to planning the work and the workers actually perform the tasks.

Recall Volti’s (2008) definition of technology. Does it make any sense to speak of taylorism as a kind of technology? Why?

Let’s try it again. How much do you know?

Answer the following:

When social scientists talk about any system that uses knowledge and organization to produce objects for the attainment of specific goals they are referring to:

  • Science
  • Culture
  • Technology
  • Society


Please, complete the following statements:

  • Something new I learned from this learning module was . . .


  • Which was the most important concept that you learned from this learning module on technology?


  • Which was the muddiest point you confronted while completing this learning module on technology?



Bijker, W. E. (1992). The Social Construction of Fluorescent Lighting, or How an Artifact was Invented in its Diffusion Stage. In W. E. Bijker,&J. Law (Eds.), Shaping Technology/ Building Society (pp. 75-102). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Bijker, W. E.,&Law, J. (Eds.). (1992). Shaping technology/Building society. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Feenberg, A. (1995). Subversive Rationalization. In A. Feenberg,&A. Hannay (Eds.), Technology and the Politics of Knowledge (pp. 3-22). Bllomington: Indiana University Press.

Harvey, D. (1999). The Limits to Capital. New York: Verso.

Scott, J.,&Marsahll, G. (2005). Oxford dictionary of Sociology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Volti, R. (2008). Society and Technological Change. New York: Worth Publishers.

Further reading

Feenberg, A.,&Hannay, A. (Eds.). (1995). The Politics of Knowledge. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

MacKenzie, D.,&Wajman, J. (Eds.). (1999). The Social Shaping of Technology. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Marcuse, H. (1991[1964]). One-Dimensional Man. Boston: Beacon Press.

Thomas, R. J. (1994). What Machines Can't do. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Volti, R. (2008). Society and Technological Change. New York: Worth Publishers.

This learning module was prepared by José Anazagasty. He teaches sociology for the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.

Tel. 787-832-4040 exts. 3839, 3407, 3303 Fax. 787-265-5440

Address:University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez CampusFaculty of Arts and Sciences Department of Social SciencesPO Box 9266 Mayagüez, PR 00681-9266

Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Berger describes sociologists as concerned with
Mueller Reply
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Civis project - uprm. OpenStax CNX. Nov 20, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11359/1.4
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Civis project - uprm' conversation and receive update notifications?