<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >


This module is a companion to the module, “Socio-Technical Systems in Professional Decision-Making” (m14025). It also responds to recent work in an area dubbed, Science and Technology Studies. (Johnson and Wetmore’s anthology, Technology and Society: Building Our Sociotechnical Future , provides a good sampling of recent articles in this area.) You will be provided with three lenses through which to view technologies. Each lens presents a different conception of the relation of technology to society; no single lens is completely true or completely false. Rather, each is distinguished by the way in which it selects certain elements from experience as areas for concentration and focus. Thus, lenses are tools that will prove useful as you navigate through the complexity of different socio-technical systems. Working with these lenses will give you a multi-layered and multi-dimensional view of the different ecologies (social, technical, and natural) that surround you and within which you work.

What you need to know.

Lenses are not ideologies

  • An ideology presents a particular world view as the truth. Thomas Kuhn characterized ideologies or world views as “paradigms” in his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions . For Kuhn, paradigms form self-contained accountings of the world and are incommensurable with one other. During certain “normal” periods, these paradigms can construct positive and useful lines of inquiry and discovery.
  • But incommensurable paradigms also battle with one another during “revolutionary” periods for dominance. Kuhn’s highly controversial claim is that disputes between rival, paradigms cannot be resolved by recourse to rational means. Instead, they become power struggles, not unlike the power struggles in the political realm between competing classes and their supporting ideologies.
  • Treating different views on the relation between technology and society as lenses rather than incommensurable ideologies or paradigms, allows us to explore and compare the different lines of inquiry each opens. Lenses are tools that support inquire, drive discovery, and refashion the surrounding world. Each lens provides a partial view of experience. Viewing experience through multiple lenses helps us to build a richer, multi-level and multi-perspective for trouble shooting and problem-solving.
  • In this module, you will view the four cases presented above through the lenses of technological determinism, social construction, and technological politics. These different lenses should help you to understand and control technology more effectively and safely.

Lens one: technological determinism

  • Marx provides the classical statement of technological determinism: “In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production; and in changing their mode of production, in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill society with the industrial capitalist.” Quoted by Langdon Winner in Autonomous Technology, 79
  • Technological determinism thus claims that certain technological devices (electricity, the automobile, the computer) recreate our material conditions in such a way that they determine the nature of our social consciousness and restructure our social and economic relations to one another.
  • The following quote shows that, for Heilbroner, technological determinism comes from a unique convergence of events during modern times. Science has advanced to a particular point in harmony with certain machine-oriented skills.
  • “Technological Determinism is thus peculiarly a problem of a certain historical epoch—specifically that of high capitalism and low socialism—in which the forces of technical change have been unleashed but when the agencies for the control or guidance of technology are still rudimentary.” (Johnson and Wetmore, 104)
  • Thus, a knowledge base (formed out of value-neutral, mechanistic science) has been combined with a platform of technical know-how (such as the ability to fashion metal with precision into complex machines) to give rise to certain economic relations (capitalist to worker). But, because our political system was developed in pre-industrial times, it is not able to control the current technological revolution. The technology controls us much to our detriment. To take back control, we must radically reconstitute both our technology and our social and economic relations.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
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
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?

Subramanian Divya
Start Quiz