The Social Shaping of Technology

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"....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 ...
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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Update of the first edition published 1985. Examines how social context affects the development of various specific technologies, namely production, reproductive, and military technology. Also explores such issues as the relationship between technology and gender. Contains an introductory essay by the editors, who also introduce each subject section. Distributed by Taylor & Francis. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780335199143
  • Publisher: Open University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/1999
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: 2ND
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 462

Meet the Author

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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Table of Contents

Notes on contributors
Acknowledgements
Editors' note
Preface to the second edition
Pt. 1 Introductory essay and general issues
Introductory essay: the social shaping of technology 3
1 Do artifacts have politics? 28
2 ModestöWitness@SecondöMillennium 41
3 Edison and electric light 50
4 Inventing personal computing 64
5 Constructing a bridge 87
6 Competing technologies and economic prediction 106
7 The social construction of technology 113
8 Redefining the social link: from baboons to humans 116
9 Caught in the wheels: the high cost of being a female cog in the male machinery of engineering 126
10 Making 'white' people white 134
Pt. 2 The technology of production
Introduction 141
11 The watermill and feudal authority 152
12 The machine versus the worker 156
13 Technology and capitalist control 158
14 Social choice in machine design: the case of automatically controlled machine tools 161
15 The material of male power 177
16 What machines can't do: politics and technology in the industrial enterprise 199
17 Writers, texts and writing acts: gendered user images in word processing software 222
18 Learning by trying: the implementation of configurational technology 244
19 Working relations of technology production and use 258
Pt. 3 Reproductive technology
Introduction 269
20 The industrial revolution in the home 281
21 A gendered socio-technical construction: the smart house 301
22 A woman's place: dolores Hayden on the 'grand domestic revolution' 314
23 Inserting Grafenberg's IUD into the sex reform movement 318
24 The decline of the one-size-fits-all paradigm, or, how reproductive scientists try to cope with postmodernity 325
Pt. 4 Military technology
Introduction 343
25 Cold war and white heat: the origins and meanings of packet switching 351
26 Manufacturing gender in military cockpit design 372
27 The American Army and the M-16 rifle 382
28 The Thor-Jupiter controversy 395
29 The weapons succession process 406
30 Theories of technology and the abolition of nuclear weapons 419
Bibliography 443
Index 452
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