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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

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
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.
yes that's correct
I think
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
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
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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