The Machine at Work: Technology, Work and Organization / Edition 1

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This highly topical book is a concise and accessible account of the relationship between technology and work. Firstly, it reviews and critically assesses a variety of recent approaches to the social and cultural dimensions of technology. Secondly, it examines the implications of these new approaches for existing ideas about the nature of technology and work organization.

At the core of much thinking about technology is the assumption that the technical character and capacity of artefacts is given. The enduring image of deus ex machina captures the idea that it is the essential capacity 'within' a technology which, in the end, accounts for the way we organize ourselves, our work and other life experiences. Recent work in the sociology of technology, by contrast, sets out relativist and constructivist accounts of technology, which begin to challenge this central assumption.

The Machine at Work includes a reinterpretation of the Luddites; a review of the social processes of development in information technology; a reassessment of theories of the role of technology in work; and an analysis of the common limitations of some constructivist and feminist perspectives on technology. The book argues that only a commitment to a particular conception of constructivism enables the kind of radical rethinking about technology and work relations that is needed.

This engaging and informative text will be of interest to students in a range of subject areas - from sociology, organizational theory and behaviour, to industrial relations, management and business studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A challenging analysis of the relations between work andtechnology from an anti-essentialist perspective. Key issuesconcerning the production and consumption of technology are debatedin a lucid and scholarly manner. Highly recommended." ProfessorJohn Hassard, Keele University

"The application of contemporary sociological models oftechnological change in the workplace is still in its infancy.The Machine at Work plays a crucial role in bridging thisgap. It is one of the few recent publications helping the study oftechnological change at work to come of age." Professor RichardBadham, University of Wollongong

"This book is well written and accessible. Besides being ofinterest to scholars, especially students of sociology,organisational theory, innovation and management studies, TheMachine at Work should provide stimulating reading for thosewith a more general interest in contemporary analyses oftechnology." The Times Higher Education Supplement

"A fine introductory text." Information Technology andPeople

"[A] fascinating book ... [It] raise[s] very realmethodological questions and, what is more to the point, attemptsto provide answers to them." British Journal ofSociology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745609256
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/4/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 0.48 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith Grint is Lecturer in Management Studies and Fellow in Organization Behaviour at Templeton College, Oxford. Steve Woolgar is Director of CRICT and Professor of Sociology at Brunel, University of West London.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Deus ex Machina. .

1. Theories of Technology.

2. The Luddites: Diablo Ex Machina. .

3. Configuring the User: Inventing New Technologies.

4. Some Failures of Nerve in Constructivist and FeministAnalyses of Technology.

5. Technology and Work Organizations.

6. What's Social about Being Shot?.




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