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The Social Shaping of Technology

Edited By: Donald Mackenzie and Judy Wajcman

462 pages, B/w photos

Open University Press

Paperback | Dec 1999 | Edition: 2 | #96212 | ISBN: 0335199135
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NHBS Price: £25.99 $33/€28 approx

About this book

Reviews of the first edition: ??i??...This book is a welcome addition to the sociology of technology, a field whose importance is increasingly recognised??i??i??' - ??i??Sociology??i??. ??i??...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??i??i??' - ??i??Science and Society??i??. ??i??...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??i??i??' - ??i??Technology and Culture??i??. 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.

"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


Notes on Contributors Acknowledgements 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? Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium 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 Introduction 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 Introduction 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 Introduction 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 Bibliography Index.

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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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