The Social Construction of Technology: Structural Considerations

Science, Technology, and Human Values 27 (1):28-52 (2002)
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Abstract

Although scholarship in the social construction of technology has contributed much to illuminating technological development, most work using this theoretical approach is committed to an agency-centered approach. SCOT scholars have made only limited contributions to illustrating the influence of social structures. In this article, the authors argue for the importance of structural concepts to understanding technological development. They summarize the SCOT conceptual framework defined by Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker and survey some of the methodological and explanatory difficulties that arise with their approach. Then the authors present concepts from organizational sociology and political economy that illuminate structural influences in shaping phenomena of interest to SCOT scholars. These structural concepts can be applied to the study of the design, development, and transformation of technology. The authors conclude that the limited amount of scholarship on structural factors in the social shaping of technological development presents numerous opportunities for research.

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Hans Klein
Georgia Institute of Technology