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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

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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