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Lens two: social construction

  • This lens comes from Pinch and Bijker’s article, “The Social Construction of Facts and Artifacts.” Social construction makes the opposite claim to technological determinism. Instead of holding that technology determines society, the social constructionist argues that society determines or “constructs” the technology. This lens, then, will help you to see the contribution that individuals and groups make to the social construction of technologies.
  • Pinch and Bijker begin with an application of epistemological relativism to science and technology.
  • Relativism may be a misnomer here since it argues that individuals or groups bestow truth and value on the surrounding world. Humans according to the Greek thinker, Protagoras, are the measure of all things, of those that are, that they are and of those that are not, that they are not. So classical relativism holds that humans-—as individuals or as groups-—provide the standards by which all things are assessed.
  • But the relativism that Bijker and Pinch advocate is for methodological, not ontological, purposes. All scientific theory proposals and all technological variations are treated the same whether successes or failures. They are all grist for the historian's mill. This gives us special insight into how they are generated, how they compete with one another, how individuals interact with them, and on how, finally, the successes are selected and the failures de-selected. This methodological relativism lays bare the process of social construction concealed in the final product.

    Looking at the development of technologies, pinch and bijker identify three stages:

  1. The first stage exhibits interpretive flexibility. Because the design of an artifact and its meaning are open, social interaction and transaction generates different variations. (Their example is the different bicycle designs that competed for market share before the small wheeled, safer version won out.) Many variations are generated which compete with one another. This positive competition stimulates creativity. Individuals interact with the variations that are produced, experimenting with them and, through this experimentation, clarifying their interests, values, and concerns. The interests, needs, and problems clarified become filters that select and de-select variations.
  2. The second stage is characterized as the closing of interpretive flexibility. Needs, interests, and problems stabilize. They select and de-select variations so that most drop off to the side. Because individuals interact with facts and artifacts, because they experiment with them, select those that meet their needs and de-select those that don't, they literally and socially construct them.
  3. In the third stage, closure is achieved through rhetorical means (such as advertising), problem definition (which keeps some problems and dissolves others), and inclusion in a wider context where the variations selected fit into the surrounding socio-technical system. Closure leads us to forget the historical process of social construction, i.e., interpretive flexibility and closure of interpretive flexibility. Hence, we treat the final technology as a black box that has always been there and is somehow inevitable. But re-opening the historical process reminds us that the black box has been constructed and selected to incorporate our needs, problems, and values.

Questions & Answers

How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
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
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
How can I make nanorobot?
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
how can I make nanorobot?
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
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Civis project - uprm. OpenStax CNX. Nov 20, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11359/1.4
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