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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

Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
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.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
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
Rafiq
if virus is killing to make ARTIFICIAL DNA OF GRAPHENE FOR KILLED THE VIRUS .THIS IS OUR ASSUMPTION
Anam
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Anam
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
Hafiz
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
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
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
hi
Loga
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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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