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Social Construction of Technology

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The is a brief presentation on the central tenets of Bikjer and Pinch's theory on significant factors at play in forming, developing, adopting, and establishing sociotechnical objects.

The is a brief presentation on the central tenets of Bikjer and Pinch's theory on significant factors at play in forming, developing, adopting, and establishing sociotechnical objects.

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  • Groups are characterized by core values – political, economic, psychological.
  • The significant and fundamental idea that social constructivism brings to the sociology of science is that there is nothing epistemologically special about the nature of science. of science – science is no more or less than all other knowledge cultures or knowledge disciplines.This can be questioned with some revolutionary scientific discoveries such as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory – a theory that was not accepted by the church – the post powerful political power of the age (15th century).
  • The significant and fundamental idea that social constructivism brings to the sociology of science is that there is nothing epistemologically special about the nature of science. of science – science is no more or less than all other knowledge cultures or knowledge disciplines.This can be questioned with some revolutionary scientific discoveries such as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory – a theory that was not accepted by the church – the post powerful political power of the age (15th century).
  • The significant and fundamental idea that social constructivism brings to the sociology of science is that there is nothing epistemologically special about the nature of science. of science – science is no more or less than all other knowledge cultures or knowledge disciplines.This can be questioned with some revolutionary scientific discoveries such as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory – a theory that was not accepted by the church – the post powerful political power of the age (15th century).
  • The significant and fundamental idea that social constructivism brings to the sociology of science is that there is nothing epistemologically special about the nature of science. of science – science is no more or less than all other knowledge cultures or knowledge disciplines.This can be questioned with some revolutionary scientific discoveries such as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory – a theory that was not accepted by the church – the post powerful political power of the age (15th century).an early plastic, started out as an artificial substitute for varnish. It was not a market success. Due to an accidental dumping of materials that make up Bakelite, it was clear that this substance could be a cheap, artificial substitute for resin – an expensive organic substance
  • The significant and fundamental idea that social constructivism brings to the sociology of science is that there is nothing epistemologically special about the nature of science. of science – science is no more or less than all other knowledge cultures or knowledge disciplines.This can be questioned with some revolutionary scientific discoveries such as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory – a theory that was not accepted by the church – the post powerful political power of the age (15th century).
  • The significant and fundamental idea that social constructivism brings to the sociology of science is that there is nothing epistemologically special about the nature of science. of science – science is no more or less than all other knowledge cultures or knowledge disciplines.This can be questioned with some revolutionary scientific discoveries such as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory – a theory that was not accepted by the church – the post powerful political power of the age (15th century).
  • The significant and fundamental idea that social constructivism brings to the sociology of science is that there is nothing epistemologically special about the nature of science. of science – science is no more or less than all other knowledge cultures or knowledge disciplines.This can be questioned with some revolutionary scientific discoveries such as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory – a theory that was not accepted by the church – the post powerful political power of the age (15th century).
  • The significant and fundamental idea that social constructivism brings to the sociology of science is that there is nothing epistemologically special about the nature of science. of science – science is no more or less than all other knowledge cultures or knowledge disciplines.This can be questioned with some revolutionary scientific discoveries such as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory – a theory that was not accepted by the church – the post powerful political power of the age (15th century).
  • The significant and fundamental idea that social constructivism brings to the sociology of science is that there is nothing epistemologically special about the nature of science. of science – science is no more or less than all other knowledge cultures or knowledge disciplines.This can be questioned with some revolutionary scientific discoveries such as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory – a theory that was not accepted by the church – the post powerful political power of the age (15th century).
  • The significant and fundamental idea that social constructivism brings to the sociology of science is that there is nothing epistemologically special about the nature of science. of science – science is no more or less than all other knowledge cultures or knowledge disciplines.This can be questioned with some revolutionary scientific discoveries such as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory – a theory that was not accepted by the church – the post powerful political power of the age (15th century).
  • Transcript

    • 1. Florence Paisey April 2011
    • 2.  Definition Importance Origins Core Assumptions Central Constructs Leading Advocates Significant Studies Limitations Conclusion
    • 3. The Theory of the Social Construction of Technology
    • 4.  The Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) has grown out of the tenets of social constructivism and the sociology of scientific knowledge. SCOT views the development of technology as an interactive process or discourse among technologists or engineers and relevant (or interested) social groups. SCOT may be defined as an interactive sociotechnical process that shapes all forms of technology.
    • 5. A Ground-Breaking Perspective
    • 6.  Technologies or innovations – like the wheel, the printing press, the bicycle, the assembly line, computers – all shape and organize the world and our lives. Individuals – you and me – decide what technologies or parts of a technology are useful, profitable, or comfortable – meaningful. Groups – assemblies of individuals – form, each characterized by particular variables, each group holding a stake in a technology.
    • 7.  These relevant groups or ―stakeholders‖ include scientists, technologists, economists, politicians, entrepreneurs, you, and me. Each stakeholder characterizes innovations with variant problems and solutions – they interpret the innovation differently.  One innovation may be a solution – but, also have a bug. If the ―bug‖ or problem isn’t resolved, the innovation will fail – relevant social groups – or stakeholders will not buy in. In resolving the problems – accepted more or less by significant groups -- the social has shaped the technical. Hence, sociotechnical.
    • 8. Sociology of Technology and Science (STS)
    • 9.  The Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) was introduced in 1984 by Bijker and Pinch. Their paper – ―The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology might Benefit Each Other‖ introduced the theory and set forth an argument to support it. The paper identified mechanisms by which the social and the technical interact.
    • 10.  The sociology of science and the sociology of technology had been approached separately. The sociology of science has recently applied the theory of social constructivism to explain its trajectory. Social Constructivism holds that knowledge is a social construction – (not an ultimate truth). As such knowledge/science can be interpreted in different ways.
    • 11.  Bijker and Pinch relate this perspective to the progress of technology.  Technologies work or fail because of a range of heterogeneous interpretations and variables – constraining or driving factors. Social Constructivism and technology holds that people attach meanings or interpretations to artifacts. People/social groups direct technological development through their interpretation/meanings – perhaps to fruition; perhaps to defeat.
    • 12. Pioneering Ideas in the Sociology of Technology
    • 13.  The idea that the social shapes science was a new idea.  Science is not directed independently, by an internal logic or ―Determinism.‖  There is nothing epistemologically special about the path or nature of science. …in other words, this is a relativist position – not a positivist or objectivist position. Science progresses due to social forces – this includes all social pressures – economic, political, psychological – influences. Social entities attach meanings to specific scientific endeavors, innovations, or related variables – if these meanings are accepted by relevant social groups – science progresses.
    • 14.  The trajectory of technology, like science, does not depend on its independent, exogenous nature. Technology is socially constructed – its progress or movement depends on many social factors and relevant social groups.
    • 15. The Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology
    • 16.  Studies in the sociology of technology are problematic because most studies have been conducted on successful innovations— few studies done on the failures. These studies of innovation suggest that there is an implicit assumption that an innovation succeeded as if a magic wand ―made it so.‖ The sociological variables that played into a success are not sufficiently analyzed.
    • 17.  Bijker and Pinch use the example of the plastic Bakelite to illustrate their idea of social forces at work in shaping technology. Bakelike: an early plastic, started out as an artificial substitute for varnish.  It was not a market success.  Accidental dumping of materials that make up Bakelite, proved that the material could be molded into plastics.  The innovation was redirected for use as plastic and all of its applications.  The scientist who developed Bakelite did not envision its use as a plastic and the many ways plastic is used.
    • 18. How do Social Groups Form?
    • 19.  Bijker and Pinch (1984) state that technology, like science, is socially constructed – its trajectory depends on many social factors and relevant social groups.
    • 20.  An implicit assumption  Social, political, economic and all other ―societal‖ pressures are established (not forming) while shaping a technological innovation (Callon& Law, 1987).  Callon& Law also question how the boundaries between social elements – economics, political, etcetera, are determined and defined.  Callon& Law (Actor Network Theory) view technology and social movement as working in tandem – one effecting change in the other until stabilization ( or failure) occurs.
    • 21. Interpretive Flexibility, Relevant Social Groups, Stabilization, Controversies, Closure
    • 22.  Relevant Social Groups  Who are the most influential social groups that could be interested in an innovation?  Researchers  Housewives  Children  Business  Film makers  Government  Utility Companies
    • 23.  Interpretive Flexibility  How to the relevant social groups ascribe meaning to an innovation.  What does an innovation mean to:  A businessman  A housewife  A researcher  A researcher
    • 24.  Controversies Has another innovation similar to the one just diffused.  Among the relevant social groups – who has the most power – influence.  Variables such as economic factors, political factors, business advantages come to the fore.  Vehement debates take place among the relevant social groups – the group that have the most to gain – or lose.  Proposed strategies for resolving a controversy may involve:  Redesigning to meet specs. Of stakeholders.  Strong marketing campaigns – some more truthful than others
    • 25.  Goals Current Theories Problem Solving Strategies – how does an innovator or business market their technology most effectively.  Educational Use  Safety  Convenience
    • 26. • Stabilization • One social group overcomes another – the innovation of this group has been ―socially constructed‖ through socially relevant groups, controversy, and technical framework.
    • 27.  The development of the Bicycle Bakelite Florescent Lamps
    • 28.  Does not describe how people ―assemble.‖ Does not account for some revolutionary discoveries – Copernicus.
    • 29.  Silvia’s One to One Computing – Does school acculturation proceed through similar interplay. How is technology decided in a school? At what point in smart phone development did Apple’s iPhone capture the market.
    • 30. Florence M. Paisey, April 2011

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