Nov30 - SOCIOLOGY101 Sociology of Technology Living in the...

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    SOCIOLOGY 101    Introduction to Sociology
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    Sociology of Technology: Living in the Digital Age
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    Thinking about technology  sociologically… What is the relationship between technology and society?
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    On technological determinism technology as a crucial agent of change; a vivid sense of the efficacy of technology as the driving force of history Optimistic version: technological progress equals social progress Pessimistic version: “technological rationality” deskills and controls; it is authoritarian and overly mechanistic and empties human existence of its meaning
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    On technological determinism   (continued) leaves no space for human choice or intervention absolves us from responsibility from the technologies we make and use How to empirically test arguments of technological determinism? study technology innovation “as it happens” “successful” and “failed” technologies should be symmetrically considered
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    It is a fine balance between technological  determinism and social determinism It is important to keep in mind that technological development is embedded in particular social, cultural, economic, political, etc. arrangements “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” argument BUT: Is technology socially determined? One might still want to isolate ways in which technology and only technology specifically affects human experience and practice
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    Taking technology seriously The case of Robert Moses and his LI parkway bridges “Poor people and blacks, who normally used public transit, were kept off the roads because the twelve-foot buses could not get through the overpasses. One consequence was to limit access of racial minorities and low-income groups to Jones Beach, Moses’s widely acclaimed public park.”
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    The politics of technology Artifacts are conventionally perceived as neutral. It is by virtue of being acquired and used in ways that enhance the power, authority, and privilege of some over others that artifacts become associated with a value system. However, technologies are important far beyond their immediate use.
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    The politics of technology  (continued) Technologies are ways of building order in our world Consciously or not, deliberately or inadvertently, societies choose structures for technologies that influence everyday life over a very long time. The issues that divide or unite people in society are settled not only in the institutions and practices of politics proper, but also, and less obviously, in tangible arrangements of steel and concrete, wires and transistors, nuts and bolts. The obduracy of technology
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    Moving away from an either/or mode of  theorizing the relationship between  technology and society Attempt to analyze technology and society in their interrelation Organizing principle: notion of the “seamless web”
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