Bijker Mazda Presentation


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  • Tech shaped by social structures and power relations as well as ingenuity of individuals, but individ are shaped by society
  • Linear—implicit teleology
  • What kinds of stories do we tell? Re: bicycles, our society has a few: For little kids, it is often the first taste of independence “training wheels off”. For the French, it is their boxing. Dominant characteristic ‘suffering’. It became a symbol of emancipation for the early women’s movement (a story that lies close to Bijker’s account). But, whenever he tackles these stories, he tries to move away from linear models, which implies an orderly or rational path. On left, Da Vinci’s bicycle, 15 th century. If compared to bicycles on right, it is more similar to the double diamond framed cycle on the right (prototyping). But, history of bicycle went through the high-wheeler, penny-farthing, or Ordinary (as it came to be called). Why? That’s the question Bijker tries to answer… IN ANSWERING THAT QUESTION, BIJKER INTRODUCES 2 COMPONENTS TO HIS THEORY: 1. RELEVANT USER GROUP 2. INTERPRETIVE FLEXIBILITY PAY ATTENTION TO THE ORDINARY BICYCLE USERS DEPICTED IN THESE ILLUSTRATIONS/PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Celerifere or velocipede (no steering) to draisenne.
  • Showed its effectiveness via spectacular feats – going from the German city of Karlsruhe to the French border in 4 hours. Initial response was positive – post office purchased several. Problems: Muddy shoes, unwieldy (hard to brake, hard to change direction), wooden wheels (not very shock-absorbing).
  • 2 answers to problems of draisenne: Scottish McMillan’s bicycle and French Michaux’s velocipede. Similar answers to: Muddy shoes : Cranks to rest your feet upon. Rough roads : Saddle suspended. Steering mechanism . Heavy frame : steel tubing used rather than wooden frames (move from technology of coaches, to use of technology from sewing machine and other parts manufacturing industries. Self-propulsion: 2 differences: MacMillan’s treadles are rear-driven. Michaux’s bicycle has pedals attached to a significantly bigger front wheel. There is no record of McMillan’s bicycle ever having sold. Sporting aspect was beginning to be emphasized- 1868: 1200 meter velocipede race in France. 1869: 83 mile race, 200 participants. Michaux’s bicycle gained in popularity, boosted by good marketing in the 1868 World’s Fair. Spectacle of it attracted well-to-do. Manufacturers from England brought it back to Coventry. The scene shifted completely to UK.
  • While the McMillan bicycle didn’t take off, the Michaux bicycle, with a bigger front wheel, did. The bicycle was embraced in the UK, Bijker cites Coventry industries moving from sewing machines, weapons, and agricultural machine manufacturers re-tooled. In UK, Starley inaugurated the high-wheeler with a spectacular feat – riding from London to Coventry, 96 miles in one day. The “Ariel”, an Ordinary, was launched upon the market – 8 pounds per.
  • Ordinary users: “Young men of means and nerve”; Typical Ordinary user – young, athletic, and well-to-do. Few men of middle age, and fewer women included. Common folk could not afford them.
  • Some examples of the ‘men of means and nerve’
  • Ordinary non-users: Women, older men, children, and the general masses who couldn’t afford the bicycles. Circus performer.
  • “I have shown, however, that the Ordinary bicycle can be interpreted as having been 2 things at the same time: a comfortable, classy, well-working artifact, and a dangerous, accident-prone, and thus non-working machine.” Notion of ‘working’ technology completely dependent upon the acceptance of a user group.
  • Several attempts, during heyday of the ordinary, to try and provide a safe vehicle, to re-order the technology in order to make it ‘safe’. Here are some alternatives to the ordinary bicycle. However, the interpretive definitions for the 2 user groups were not to be reconciled until the development of two things: features to allay the loss of speed and the loss of vibration damping that a smaller wheel would be prone to. The resolution lay in the development of a rear-driven chain drive in combination with the application of rubber wheel technology to bicycle industry. (Dunlop started making rubber wheels for use in carriages, but it was too expensive).
  • So, with the development of the rear-driven chain drive and pneumatic tires, the two relevant user groups were able to share the same vocabulary, the same technological artifact. Ellen will talk about Bakelite and introduce the third component – technological frame.
  • The title of Chapter 3, The Four Kingdom, comes from a 1937 film by the Bakelite Corporation that describes various applications of Bakelite. Voice-over in the film’s introduction says: “ Mineral, Vegetable, Animal – the Three Kingdoms of Nature. They served mankind for all ages, but now our modern industrial society finds them insufficient to fill all needs. It has to turn elsewhere; it turns to the Fourth Kingdom – Plastics.”
  • In this chapter: Bijker uses the example of Bakelite to counter the myth of the lone inventor. He explains how standard accounts of the search for synthetic plastics focus narrowly on Baekeland’s invention. And, in the book, he wants to show us that what happened is more complex. To do that, he applies a social constructivist analysis to the story.
  • In this chapter, he builds on three theories that have been introduced so far: Those are: Relevant social groups Interpretive flexibility Concepts of stabilization and closure And he introduces two new concepts: Technological Frame Degree of Inclusion But, before we get to the theory, I need to give you some background to the story of Bakelite. I should say that what I will describe is an over-simplification of what Bijker provides in the book. But, I hope that I can hit enough of the important points to make his theory relevant.
  • First, a little information about what Bakelite is, since some of you may be familiar with the term and others may not. (Read from the points on the slide.) At the bottom of the slide are some examples of products made from Bakelite.
  • To understand the story of Bakelite, we have to know something about the history of plastics and how Bakelite emerged. Bijker describes how there was a long history of using natural substances as ‘plastic-like’ materials. Examples were… These were primarily aimed at a luxury markets. New options emerged in the 19 th Century, including rubber and celluloid. Both had useful applications, but rubber had the drawback of being ugly and celluloid had the major drawback of being highly flammable. In the late 19 th century, the search for synthetic plastics was driven by a number of things: The existing options like rubber and celluloid had major drawbacks There were concerns about the scarcity of natural resources Consumers emerged as a new relevant social group creating demand for synthetic plastics Experiments with Phenol-Formaldehyde experiments showed promise. Early researchers in this area were focused on pure science: they were looking at the chemical reaction that occurred when the two substances were combined, and were focused on narrow aspects such as color or similarity to plant resin. (“Awkward Resin”) Later, similar research was taken up by non-chemists. This time the research focused on industrial applications, but none of the experiments was commercially successful. Next, we come to Baekeland’s own experiments with phenol-formaldehyde.
  • The time is the turn of the century, and phenol-formaldehyde research was more or less in disarray. Baekeland decides to look at the reaction in a more structured way. In his laboratory, he experiments with controlling variables of the process, and identifies four distinct products. He calls them products A, B, C, and D, and applies for a patent. The four products had different properties related to their state and hardness: Product A was liquid, Product B was elastic, Product C was hard yet gummy, and Product D was hard and insoluble Notes that Baekeland made in his laboratory journal show that he was interested in commercial applications for these products. And, so, Bijker asks the question: Why did Baekeland succeed when other people didn’t?? This brings us to the concept of “Technological Frame”
  • Bijker says that each relevant social group… (Read and ad lib from the slide)
  • A second concept that Bijker introduces is the idea of “Degrees of Inclusion” We will see how inclusion in more than one technological frame allows Baekeland to succeed in discovering Bakelite.
  • Bijker says that Baekeland’s inclusion in more than one technological frame allowed him to make the important discovery of synthetic plastics. First, he was a photochemist. As a photochemist, he experimented with controlling variables of the photochemical process in order to create the first photographic paper. This experience influenced the way that he worked with the phenol-formaldehyde reaction. Secondly, he was an electrochemist. Bijker describes how electrochemists were primarily interested in industrial applications of raw materials. This influenced the way that Baekeland went about his work. Finally, Baekeland was a businessman, which meant that he focused on how processes could be scaled up. While he was trained as a chemist, he was interested in the chemical reaction for the purpose of applying it on an industrial scale. So, Baekeland’s inclusion in these three groups led him to approach problems in a different way than if he were a member of any single group.
  • GE involved in most convoluted antitrust lawsuits in history, including into WWII. Mergers to eliminate competition Licensing to access patents
  • Utilities were privately owned but they joined together into social groups , much like dairy farmers did for Got Milk ads.
  • Appliances, radios, sound movies Americans don’t get Elec, just wonderous of it.
  • Why not bring in new tecnology…unexplored implications
  • No patents for fouorescent
  • Created by board members w/ no engineers; GE agreed; new ads
  • Bijker Mazda Presentation

    1. 1. Wiebe Bijker: Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change
    2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Understanding the place of technology in our lives and in our society. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples from three technological advances: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The safety bicycle </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bakelite plastic </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fluorescent bulbs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Technology and society are human constructs </li></ul>
    3. 3. Bijker (be é -ker) <ul><li>Dutch engineering student in the 1970s </li></ul><ul><li>Drawn to Science Technology Society movement (STS) </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Risks of nuclear energy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental degradation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Followed Social Construction of Technology apprach (SCOT) </li></ul>
    4. 4. Classification, bad <ul><li>Tried to dissolve STS boundaries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Seamless web </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Abhorred linear thinking </li></ul>
    5. 5. A vague diagram
    6. 6. Summary <ul><li>Technological inventions are created within society; cannot be viewed distinctly </li></ul><ul><li>Gives three concrete stories and ties them in to their societal frameworks </li></ul><ul><li>Keywords: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Relevant Social Group </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Interpretive Flexibility: Closure/Stabilization </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technological Frame </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Power </li></ul></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Part 1: Of Bicycles…
    8. 8. Part 1: Of Bicycles… <ul><li>Early 19 th century, Baron von Drais’ draisenne </li></ul>
    9. 9. Part 1: Of Bicycles… <ul><li>Early 19 th century, Baron von Drais’ draisienne </li></ul>
    10. 10. Part 1: Of Bicycles…
    11. 11. Part 1: Of Bicycles…
    12. 12. Part 1: Of Bicycles…
    13. 13. Part 1: Of Bicycles…
    14. 14. Part 1: Of Bicycles…
    15. 15. <ul><li>Relevant user group – are the social groups centered around the technology, in this case, the Ordinary bicycle. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Users: Young men of means and nerve </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-users: Everybody else </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Manufacturers: industrialized machine industries de-stabilized by Franco-German war </li></ul></ul>Part 1: Of Bicycles…
    16. 16. <ul><li>Interpretive flexibility – the definition of the artifact according to the relevant user group </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For young men of means and nerve – it is a working technology, slightly dangerous, but that was, partly, the point. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For everybody else – it is a non-working technology. It was unsafe. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For manufacturers – how do you develop it for wider use? </li></ul></ul>Part 1: Of Bicycles…
    17. 17. Part 1: Of Bicycles…
    18. 18. Part 1: Of Bicycles…
    19. 19. Part 1: Of Bicycles…
    20. 20. “ The Fourth Kingdom” The Social Construction of Bakelite
    21. 21. Baekeland Lone inventor?
    22. 22. Two New Concepts <ul><li>Technological Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Degree of Inclusion </li></ul><ul><li>But first, some background to the story of Bakelite… </li></ul>
    23. 23. What is Bakelite? <ul><li>Trademark for a molding material patented by Baekeland in 1907 </li></ul><ul><li>Formed in condensation reaction that occurs when phenol and formaldehyde are combined </li></ul><ul><li>Insoluble, infusible, and unaffected by other chemicals </li></ul><ul><li>First truly synthetic plastic </li></ul><ul><li>Moldable but hardens </li></ul>
    24. 24. Precursors to Bakelite and Relevant Social Groups <ul><li>Old “Plastics” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Resin, horn, tortoiseshells, ivory, etc. (luxury market) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>New Plastics Made from Natural Materials </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rubber – useful but ugly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Celluloid – useful but flammable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Search for Synthetic Plastics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Concern about scarcity of natural resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Precursors created demand for consumer products (emergence of new social group) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Phenol-formaldehyde experiments </li></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Discovery of Bakelite <ul><li>Turn-of-the-Century </li></ul><ul><li>Phenol-formaldehyde research in disarray </li></ul><ul><li>Baekeland tries to find patterns in chaos </li></ul><ul><li>Applies for patent for product he calls Bakelite: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Product A: Liquid </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Product B: Elastic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Product C: Hard yet gummy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Product D: Hard and insoluble </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Laboratory notes show he was interested in commercial applications </li></ul>
    26. 26. “ Technological Frame” <ul><li>Each relevant social group has own Technological Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Builds when relevant social groups interact around an artifact </li></ul><ul><li>Provides the goals, ideas and tools needed for action (solving problems) </li></ul><ul><li>Outcome is constrained by the social group, but outcome is not predetermined. </li></ul><ul><li>Also applies to non-technical groups such as consumers, managers, politicians, etc. </li></ul>
    27. 27. “ Degree of Inclusion” <ul><li>As actors can be members of more than one relevant social group, they can also be influenced by more than one technological frame </li></ul><ul><li>“ Degree of inclusion” in a technological frame depends on extent to which an actor’s interactions are structured by that frame </li></ul><ul><li>Bijker: Innovation often comes from inclusion in more than one technological frame </li></ul>
    28. 28. Baekeland’s Inclusion in Technological Frames <ul><li>Photochemist </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Experience as photochemist (inventor of photographic paper) led him to attempt to map all possible variables of the phenol-formaldehyde reaction </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Electrochemist </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interested in producing raw materials for industry (not consumer products) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Businessman </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interested in whether processes can be scaled up </li></ul></ul>
    29. 29. The Social Construction of Bakelite Early Contacts with Industry Industrial Designers Patent Litigation Collaboration with Industry World War I Consumers Museums
    30. 30. The social construction of fluorescent lighting The majesty of daylight
    31. 31. Overview <ul><li>Lightbulbs invented in 1880 by Edison </li></ul><ul><li>This chapter focuses on 1938-1940s </li></ul><ul><li>Interplay between INDUSTRY, GOVERNMENT & CONSUMERS </li></ul><ul><li>Engineers had devised fluorescent lighting long before the socially constructed final product appeared </li></ul>
    32. 32. Key players <ul><li>1890s </li></ul><ul><li>MAZDA LIGHTING </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Comprised GE and Westinghouse </li></ul></ul><ul><li>UTILITIES </li></ul><ul><li>FIXTURE MANUFACTURERS </li></ul><ul><li>PUBLIC </li></ul><ul><li>GOVERNMENT </li></ul>
    33. 33. Consolidation <ul><li>1901 </li></ul><ul><li>GE, Westinghouse, Others </li></ul><ul><li>Others consolidate into National Electric Lamp Company. </li></ul><ul><li>GE provided capital by purchasing 75% of stock </li></ul><ul><li>GE owns 97% of U.S. electric lighting market </li></ul>
    34. 34. GENERAL ELECTRIC: Antitrust/Mergers/Cross-licensing
    35. 35. Utility companies <ul><li>Private companies, collective organizaton </li></ul><ul><li>Organized as licensees of Mazda </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dependencies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Understandings” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Utilities promoted Mazda lamps </li></ul><ul><li>Mazda promoted higher consumption </li></ul>
    36. 36. Fixture companies <ul><li>No electric co. made accessories </li></ul><ul><li>RLM Standards Institute </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Established industry standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Favored Mazda </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(who happened to collaborate in the standardization) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    37. 37. 1930s <ul><li>Despite Great Depression—belief in technology </li></ul><ul><li>Technology was the buzzword </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Object, process, knowledge, symbol </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Electricity—Symbol! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sense of wonder </li></ul></ul>
    38. 38. World’s Fair 1939 <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Utopian </li></ul><ul><li>Introduced new technologies, including fluorescent lighting—an opportunity! </li></ul>
    39. 39. From tint to daylight <ul><li>Originally for tint lighting—specialty </li></ul><ul><li>High-efficiency daylight fluorescent </li></ul><ul><li>“3 to 200 times as much light for the same wattage” </li></ul><ul><li>“Amazing efficiency” </li></ul><ul><li>“Most economical” </li></ul><ul><li>“Indoor daylight at last.” </li></ul>
    40. 40. Uh-oh: Relevant Social Groups <ul><li>Utilities feared lost revenues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tried to emphasize the “tinted” aspect </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Even Mazda was concerned </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How long would this bulb last? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Independents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hygrade-Sylvania </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Public </li></ul><ul><li>Fixture Makers </li></ul>
    41. 41. Nela Park Conference <ul><li>April 24-25, 1939 in Cleveland </li></ul><ul><li>“Fluorescent Council of War” </li></ul><ul><li>Create High-Intensity Daylight Lamp </li></ul><ul><li>Nix High-Efficiency Lamp </li></ul>
    42. 42. GE vs. the Govt. <ul><li>GE’s power continues through WWII </li></ul><ul><li>2 lawsuits involving GE were dismissed because they “interfered with the war effort” </li></ul><ul><li>Military was using fluorescent bulbs </li></ul>
    43. 43. POWER <ul><li>Transitive capacity to harness the agency of others to comply with one’s ends. </li></ul><ul><li>Is exercised, not possessed </li></ul><ul><li>Previously— </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economists would talk of technology without mentioning social power </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sociologist would not discuss technological power. </li></ul></ul>
    44. 44. Semiotic power <ul><li>Reaching closure, where interpretive flexibility is reduced, is the first step of semiotic power. </li></ul><ul><li>Which means: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More people in a relevant social group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New relevant social groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Elaborating the meaning of artifacts </li></ul></ul>
    45. 45. Constraints & Enablers <ul><li>Stabilization results in fixity of meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Fixity of meaning represents power. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shapes technological frames which specify actions of relevant social group members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Constrain actions (no high-efficiency bulbs) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enable actions: routines, patents </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Removes controversy from history </li></ul><ul><ul><li>GE ads for high-intensity </li></ul></ul>