The Social Shaping of Technology

The Social Shaping of Technology

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Reviews of the 1st Edition:
"....This book is a welcome addition to the sociology of technology, a field whose importance is increasingly recognised." - Sociology"....sets a remarkably high standard in breadth of coverage, in scholarship, and in readability and can be recommended to the general reader and to the specialist alike." - Science and Society"....This remarkably readable and well-edited anthology focuses, in a wide variety of concrete examples, not on the impacts of technologies on societies but in the reverse: how different social contexts shaped the emergence of particular technologies." - Technology and Culture

How does social context affect the development of technology?
What is the relationship between technology and gender
Is production technology shaped by efficiency or by social control?
Technological change is often seen as something that follows its own logic - something we may welcome, or about which we may protest, but which we are unable to alter fundamentally. This reader challenges that assumption and its distinguished contributors demonstrate that technology is affected at a fundamental level by the social context in which it develops. General arguments are introduced about the relation of technology to society and different types of technology are examined: the technology of production; domestic and reproductive technology; and military technology.The book draws on authors from Karl Marx to Cynthia Cockburn to show that production technology is shaped by social relations in the workplace. It moves on to the technologies of the household and biological reproduction, which are topics that male-dominated social science has tended to ignore or trivialise - though these are actually of crucial significance where powerful shaping factors are at work, normally unnoticed. The final section asks what shapes the most frightening technology of all - the technology of weaponry, especially nuclear weapons.The editors argue that social scientists have devoted disproportionate attention to the effects of technology on society, and tended to ignore the more fundamental question of what shapes technology in the first place. They have drawn both on established work in the history and sociology of technology and on newer feminist perspectives to show just how important and fruitful it is to try to answer that deeper question. The first edition of this reader, published in 1985, had a considerable influence on thinking about the relationship between technology and society. This second edition has been thoroughly revised and expanded to take into account new research and the emergence of new theoretical perspectives.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • 172 x 242 x 26mm | 900g
  • Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 2nd edition
  • bibliography, index
  • 0335199135
  • 9780335199136
  • 483,062

Table of contents

Notes on Contributors
Editors' note
Preface to the Second Edition
/f002Part 1: Introductory essay and general issues

Introductory essay: the social shaping of technology
Do artifacts have politics?
Edison and electric light
Inventing personal computing
Constructing a bridge
Competing technologies and economic prediction
The social construction of technology
Redefining the social link
from baboons to humans
Caught in the wheels
the high cost of being a female cog in the male machinery of engineering
Making 'white' people white

/f002Part 2: The technology of production

The watermill and feudal authority
The machine versus the worker
Technology and capitalist control
Social choice in machine design
the case of automatically controlled machine tools
The material of male power
What machines can't do
politics and technology in the industrial enterprise
Writers, texts and writing acts
gendered user images in word processing software
Learning by trying
the implementation of configurational technology
Working relations of technology production and use

/f002Part 3: Reproductive technology

The industrial revolution in the home
A gendered socio-technical construction
the smart house
A woman's place
Dolores Hayden on the 'grand domestic revolution'
Inserting Grafenberg's IUD into the sex reform
The decline of the one-size-fits-all paradigm, or, how reproductive scientists try to cope with post-modernity

/f002Part 4: Military technology

Cold war and white heat
the origins and meanings of packet switching
Manufacturing gender in military cockpit design
The American army and the M-16 rifle
The Thor-Jupiter controversy
The weapons succession process
Theories of technology and the abolition of nuclear weapons
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Review quote

"Delanty has written a fluent and succinct overview of social theory, including informed commentary and critique...The book presents some very good potted accounts of the various theoretical positions in the social sciences and sets out issues that are not yet resolved. It should be added to the reading lists of theory and methodology courses in the social sciences." - The Times Higher
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About Donald MacKenzie

Donald MacKenzie holds a personal Chair in Sociology at Edinburgh University, where he has taught since 1975. He is the author of Statistics in Britain, 1865-1930: The Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge (Edinburgh University Press, 1981), Inventing Accuracy: A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance (MIT Press, 1990) and of Knowing Machines: Essays in Technical Change (MIT Press, 1996). The second of these books won the Ludwig Fleck prize of the Society for Social Studies of Science, and was joint winner of the 1993 Robert K. Merton Award of the American Sociological Association. His numerous articles in the sociology and social history of science and technology have won three further international prizes, and have been translated into French, German, Dutch, Japanese, Polish and Greek.

Judy Wajcman is Professor of Sociology in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. She has previously taught and researched at the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh and Warwick in England and the University of New South Wales in Australia. Her books include Women in Control: Dilemmas of a Workers' Co-operative (Open University Press, 1983), Feminism Confronts Technology (Polity Press, 1991) and Managing Like a Man: Women and Men in Corporate Management (Polity Press, 1998). Her publications in the sociology of technology and gender relations have been translated into German, Greek and Portuguese.
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Rating details

36 ratings
4.14 out of 5 stars
5 39% (14)
4 39% (14)
3 19% (7)
2 3% (1)
1 0% (0)
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