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JLMC 574: Social Shaping of Technology vs. Technological Determinism

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Transcript of JLMC 574: Social Shaping of Technology vs. Technological Determinism

JLMC/TSC 574
Communication Technology and Social Change

Social Shaping of Technology vs. Technological Determinism
What determines social change?
Is it the technology itself?
Or is it society?
Society
Social Change
Does society impact social change?
Does technology impact social change?
Or...
Social Change
Technology
Two competing approaches exist.
Social Change
Social Shaping of Technology
Technological Determinism
Social Change
Technology
Society
They represent the two ends of a spectrum.
Technological Determinists
argue:

Technological innovation is
Inevitable.
It is "unstoppable as the mightiest tidal force" (Toffler, 1980).
Technological Determinists use words such as
"Revolution"
and
"Information Age"
Technological Determinists see technology as
It is the driving force behind
Deterministic.
social change.
Take Bill Gates, for example:
According to Technological Determinism, technological change defines history.
One author under this theoretical umbrella:
Marshall McLuhan
McLuhan argues...
All technologies are extensions of human capabilities.
There is a cultural shift from orality to literacy.
Linearity vs. non-linearity.
Let's hear what he has to say...
Click this link to view the video:
http://marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/introduction/
(You might need to leave Prezi to view this video.
It's located in the "Readings" section and the "Media Credits" section.)
"The Medium is the Message"
Each medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message.
The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure.
What McLuhan writes about the railroad applies with equal validity to print, television, and the internet. “The medium is the message” because it is the “medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.”
- Understanding Media, 1964
Each medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message.
The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure.
From the Technological Determinism perspective,
Technological change is at the center.
It is treated as autonomous.
And is removed from social pressures and the political and economic context.
Social Shaping of Technology is also called
Sociology of Technology
or
Cultural Materialism
Two competing approaches exist.
Social Change
Social Shaping of Technology
Technological Determinism
Social Change
Technology
Society
They represent the two ends of a spectrum.
Social Shaping of Technology argues that technological innovations are born within a
social context.
... because of need or other external forces.
Technologies cannot be disconnected from society.
They use as proof the fact that the same innovation emerges in multiple places at the same time.
Shanghai
New York
Dublin
Raymond Williams
Social need and political intention are factors in technological development.
For example, larger cities and radio.
Brian Winston
Technological development occurs in pre-existing social formations.
The Social Shaping of Technology situates technologies in their broader socio-cultural context
economic interest
political intention
social need
The Social Shaping of Technology states that
technologies do not determine; rather, they operate and are operated upon, in a complex social field.
The age-old "chicken or the egg" problem...
Innovation
Change
Society
What is your opinion?
vs.
Everett Rogers
Michael Bugeja
Where would you put them on the theoretical continuum?
Who is correct?
Authors from both theoretical perspectives make valid arguments.
As long as you can support your points, you can join either camp,
Technological Determinism
or
Social Shaping of Technology
In the end, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
JLMC/TSC 574
Communication Technology and Social Change

Social Shaping of Technology vs. Technological Determinism
Technology
Full transcript