From the assigned, or related, reading please choose three to five keywords. You may develop a longer entry on one or two keywords and develop a new, or integrated, entry on a previously selected keyword. These keywords should have a common usage (are part of our "general discussions"), but may be given a particular technical or disciplinary definition by the writer. Please provide brief entries — 350 to 500 words — and arrange, alphabetically, all keywords to this page. For reference, the Question Formation and Analysis assignment.

The capacity to act intentionally in a given environment; the initiation of action by an agent in a social setting. Agency usually refers to the individual who deliberates, decides, and acts; in Marxist theory, however, the Universal Class describes humans collectively and organized to act together or in concert. In Noble, agency is related to the “intelligence of production” (121). See also the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online, s.v. Agency,

Certainty Trough
Refers to the uncertainty that arises from two sides “those very close to the knowledge-producing technical heart of programs, and those alienated from them or committed to opposing programs, lie the program loyalists and those who simply ‘believe what the brochures tell them.’” (MacKenzie, pg. 352-353) The example used in MacKenzie’s article is the doubt that arose surrounding the accuracy of missiles by “those committed to an alternative weapon system,” and “those closest to the heart of the production of knowledge” (i.e. those working directly on nuclear missile accuracy testing). (MacKenzie, pg. 352) This construct is particularly important in understanding the manufacturing of doubt in the science-policy realm. While it may seem intuitive that those with opposing scientific or political views would endorse increased doubt, this model also suggests that those working directly with the scientific or technologic claim have increased doubt. Furthermore, it is worth noting that there has been controversy about the definition of the term “uncertainty,” which has the potential to be quite different whether referring to the perception or representation of it (Jasanoff, 1990; Shackley and Skodvin, 1995).

Additional References/ Information: (

D. Collingridge and C. Reeve, Science Speaks to Power, Printer, London, 1986.
Gleick, P (2007) Testimony to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and transportation For the Hearing on Climate Change Research and Scientific Integrity, February 7, 2007: Threats to the Integrity of Science.
T. Hellström, The Science-Policy dialogue in transformation: model-uncertainty and environmental policy, in: Science and Public Policy, 23 (2), 1996, p.91-97.
S. Jasanoff, The Fifth Branch, Scientific Advisers as Policy Makers, Harvard University Press, Harvard, 1990.
Oreskes N, Conway E: Merchants of doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press; 2010.D. MacKenzie, Inventing Accuracy, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1990.
Michaels, D (2005) ‘Doubt is their product: Industry groups are fighting government regulation by fomenting scientific uncertainty’, Scientific American, June 2005, pp96–101
S. Shackley and T. Skodvin, IPCC Gazing and the Interpretative Social Sciences, Global Environmental Change, 5 (3), 1995, p. 175-180.
B. Wynne, Uncertainty and Environmental Learning, in: Global Environmental Change, 2, 1992, p.111-127.

Commodification of Science
The treatment of science as a product, as part of the increased “corporate globalization” that has occurred during the postcolonial era (Anderson 644). This includes the increasingly frequent notion of scientific results as intellectual property, and questions of whether researchers should be allowed to patent the results of their research (e.g. organisms such as the OncoMouse; genes such as BRCA1; pharmaceutical drugs). The commodification of science necessitates that research be conducted in relative secrecy, particularly if the eventual goal is to patent and sell the results of the research. This brings science into the realm of capitalism, which contradicts traditional views of science as a purely academic activity.

Anderson, Warwick. "Introduction: Postcolonial Technoscience." Social Studies of Science 32, 6 May 2002

Knorr-Cetina frames her work introduction to anthropological work on science by providing an overview of previous work on a constructive versus descriptive description of science. A descriptive model of science argues that science is a process describing a pre-existing external set of facts in nature. In contrast, a constructive model of science states that scientific knowledge is “the result of a process of (reflexive) fabrication.” The knowledge is built through the process of scientific inquiry, and the results cannot, and should not, be separated from how they are constructed.

Knorr-Cetina points to several aspects of how knowledge is produced to illustrate the constructive argument. The first key point is that the classical laboratory environment itself is an artificial environment, where the inputs and techniques used are systematically constructed. Perception in a laboratory environment is rarely direct, but mediated through instruments that are themselves systematically constructed. The definitions and descriptions of what is measured are also constructs. At the extreme, this leads to a definition of laboratory science as the process of making scientific instruments function.

The second major point raised in support of a constructive framework is that the process of scientific investigation itself is decision-laden. Scientists make deliberate decisions about what to investigate based on their perceptions, available resources, and, in some cases, their social networks of collaborators. In this context, the outcome of a scientific investigation is no longer inevitable, but governed by the decisions of the investigator.

Contingency in Science
The ability for science to be shaped by “different eras, geographies, and epistemological traditions,” which allow different practices and fields to be defined as scientific (Elshakry 98). Marwa Elshakry’s (2010) analysis of the origins of Western science is centered around the claim that “some contingencies mattered more than others,” and that the contingencies that mattered more were those that came from the West (98). Additionally, according to Elshakry, these contingencies allow a “range of studies” to be classed as non-Western science, rather than merely creating dichotomous categories of “Western” and “non-Western” science, without elaborating on what these terms refer to (99).

Elshakry, Marwa. "When Science Became Western: Historiographical Reflections." Isis 101, March 2010

In many ways Latour uses the term Displacement in a similar sense as Translation (see keyword entry). He writes, “I have used several times the words 'translation' or 'transfer', 'displacement' or 'metaphor', words that all say the same thing in Latin, Greek or English. One thing is sure throughout the story told above: every actor you can think of has been to some extent displaced” (Latour 154). Yet, even though Latour is explicit his conflation of the two, there appears to be clear ways that the two terms diverge in his usage. While translation is the process that demonstrates correspondence between scientific and social interests, displacement is often used to call attention to the instability of the translation process.

In his discussion of how Pasteur’s work shifted the place of the farm to the lab, he brings attention to the translation between social interests and scientific work. Yet this connection also calls into question the base each of these spaces operate from. Latour writes, “But it is clear that the situation of the farms after the moves is not the same as before. Through the leverage point of the lab, which is a moment in a dynamic process, the farm system has been displaced” (154). Displacement is thus important in that it highlights the rupture that occurs when translations take place.

There is a movement and dynamism present in Latour’s usage of displacement, as it is often paired with terms suggesting change such as inversion (163), transformation (167), and leverage (154). Calling attention to an implied distinction between displacement and translation is to show that while the two are intertwined, neither is fully sufficient for studying the socialness of laboratories. While demonstrating the shift of social and scientific life is present in the concept of translation, it is equally necessary to account for the ways these shifts are unsteadying. Displacement is the space where this occurs.

Empirical Programme of Relativism (EPOR)
This approach came out of the sociology of scientific knowledge, and acknowledged the social construction of knowledge in the hard sciences (Pinch & Bijker, pg. 26). It focuses “on the empirical study of contemporary scientific developments and the study, in particular, of scientific controversies” (Pinch & Bijker, pg. 26).

It is comprised of three stages:

First stage – scientific findings are shown to be open to multiple interpretations. This stage serves to shift the focus from the natural world to the social world. (Pinch & Bijker, pg. 27)

Second stage –describes the “[s]ocial mechanisms that limit interpretive flexibility and thus allow scientific controversies to be terminated” (i.e. consensus emerges). (Pinch & Bijker, pg. 27)

Third Stage – relate closure mechanisms to society. However, Pinch and Bijker offer skepticism about the realization of this final stage. (Pinch & Bijker, pg. 27)

Overall EPOR is the ongoing effort by sociologists to understand the natural sciences as socially constructed. Most studies have arisen from sites of scientific controversy – which is likely due to the fact that they are sites of interpretive flexibility, which is fleeting. (Pinch & Bijker, pg. 27)

Collins expanded upon this construct and suggested that the third stage is not a final or sustained closure, but instead remains open to rebuttals and critique. He terms this phenomena “’experimenters regress’, to the effect that the outcomes of experiments are forever open to rival interpretations, since there is no rigorous methodological algorithm to decide the issue. Instead, the matter is decided by social forces” (Collin, 2011). This last point reemphasizes the social construction of science and the scientific process.

Collin, F. (2011; 2010). Science studies as naturalized philosophy (1st ed.). Dordrecht; New York: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-9741-5

Traweek introduces her work with a definition of ethnography, while acknowledging the term, and anthropology, have evolved in a way to make her study of beam-line scientists part of the field. Ethnography is a written account of anthropological field-work, based on the anthropologist's experience gathering information through personal observation and interviews with informants within the community being studied. Within this context, informants are individuals willing to share information with the anthropologist. While traditional anthropological field-work focused in non-Western, and non-industrialized groups, the techniques have been applied outside of this framework.

A key problem in ethnography is that the author has a dual identity, in which he or she is reporting on the group, while interacting in the daily life of the group. The anthropologist’s work requires observation of a full “cycle” of the events in the community: generally at least a year. Because the anthropologist has a long-term relationship with the community, and may work with the same community for an entire career, he or she, in effect, becomes an informant as well. The interactions that the anthropologist has with the community, and not just the actions within the community, become part of the ethnography as well.

The ethnography generally captures four interconnected aspects of the life of the community. Ecology describes the way in which the community physically sustains itself. Social Organization describes the social structures by which the community organizes itself, formally and informally, to do work and resolve disputes. Developmental Cycle describes how information needed to function as a member of the group is transmitted to members who join the group, either by being born into it, or willingly or unwillingly joining it. Cosmology describes the group’s shared knowledge and beliefs. While there is rarely a clear separation between these four aspects, an ethnography will attempt to address all four aspects.

Heterogeneous Engineering
The collaboration of sciences and other related fields which include equivalent research or bodies of technoscientific knowledge/practice working as signal objective/group for science. A cohesive process that produces a social agreement between each relative field for standardization and collectiveness. The interaction global networks contributes to a common social agreement. Science produces a technical product which spans into global science networks. These products help to shape science contributions and collaborations, which reach beyond cultures, races, and other social barriers. The assemblage of technical components and other devices cultivates the interface of technologies, which require a standard agreement for those items, and engineers that develop these technologies. These technoscientific devices produce items used for sharing knowledge and information between local networks and global public networks.

Turnbull, David. "'On with the motley': The contingent assemblage of knowledge spaces" in Masons, Tricksters, and Cartographers: Comparative Studies in the Sociology of Scientific and Indigenous Knowledge, pp. 19-52. Taylor & Francis, 2000.

Incommensurability is the inability of two competing paradigms to completely understand each other’s paradigm. The new and the old paradigm have incompatible viewpoints, unique understandings of nature, and separate assumptions. “Neither side will grant all the non-empirical assumptions that the other needs in order to make its case.” (Kuhn, Structure 147)

The practitioners of each paradigm will disagree on the list of problems that should be addressed by the candidate. The old paradigm will assess their paradigm in relationship to its ability to answer the questions it values. The new paradigm will have new questions that the old paradigm does not answer. The old paradigm would not even see the new questions as appropriate or worthy of addressing.

The new and old paradigm will disagree on the meanings of terms. While new and old paradigms may share the same terms and artifacts, due to the fact that the new paradigm came out of the old one, each competing viewpoint will understand the vocabulary differently. Kuhn uses Einstein's understanding of space as an example. (148) While the Einstein’s new paradigm understands space as curved, the old paradigm would and could not conceive of space as anything beyond its three dimensions.

Ultimately, the two competing paradigms practice their fields of science in two different worlds. They both are using observation and reasoning; they simply see different things and connect the dots differently. One cannot gradually overcome incommensurability and transfer from an old to new paradigm through logic or reason. The shift must occur all at once.

The idea of incommensurability has been the source of further study, both by Kuhn and by other academics. One such example is Galileo Courtier in which Mario Biagioli identifies two additional points to add to Kuhn’s theory of incommensurability. The first is that the inability of the two paradigms to communicate enables the new paradigm to flourish and replace the old paradigm. The second is the ability for some practitioners to be bilingual in both paradigms. Biagioli argues, “In the beginning (before they have established themselves socioprofessionally) members of the emerging paradigm need to be bilingual in order to erode the authority of the old one.” (Biagoli 240)

I will leave you with a final quotation from Thomas Kuhn. He wrote in 1990 “No other aspect of Structure has concerned me so deeply in the thirty years since the book was written and I emerge from those years feeling more strongly than ever that incommensurability has to be an essential component of any historical, developmental, or evolutionary view of scientific knowledge.” (Kuhn, “The Road Since Structure” 3)

Additional Works Cited

Biagioli, Mario. Galileo Courtier: The Practice of Science in the Culture of Absolutism. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Kuhn, Thomas S. “The Road Since Structure.” Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of Philosophy of Science Association 2 (1990): 3-13.

Normal science
According to Thomas Kuhn, “normal science” refers to “research firmly based upon one or more past scientific achievements, achievements that some particular scientific community acknowledges for a time as supplying the foundation for further practice” (Kuhn, Structure 10). With normal science, which Kuhn likens to “mopping up operations” (24), a scientific community does not question or challenge accepted theories, but instead seeks to confirm or extend their application. Therefore, according to Kuhn: “Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none” (52).

The vast majority of scientific research could thus be classified as normal science, and concerns itself with three main activities: 1) Determination of significant facts (e.g., boiling points, gravities, composition, weight, structures of compounds), 2) Comparing facts with theory, and 3) Conducting experiments to articulate theory (to determine physical constants, quantitative laws, or to apply the theory to new areas) (29).

Kuhn likens the activity of normal science to solving a puzzle; the outcome is expected, but the method to reach that outcome is open and requires ingenuity. In part, this is what makes the practice of normal science desirable to scientists: “What then challenges him is the conviction that, if only he is skillful enough, he will succeed in solving a puzzle that no one else has solved or solved so well” (38). The success of normal science stems from its dedication to specific paradigms, which lead it to sometimes suppress anomalies that do not match its understandings of the world and to choose problems (or puzzles) that appear solvable with the paradigmatic tools. For this reason, Kuhn claims, “normal science seems to progress so rapidly” (37). In normal science, anomalies can also represent new puzzles to be solved. However, when anomalies become too numerous and widespread among the community, a paradigm shift can occur, leading to a scientific revolution.

Paradigms, as defined by Kuhn, are “universally recognized scientific achievements that for a time provide model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners.” (Kuhn, Structure xlii) A paradigm is explicitly tied to science and, in particular, a mature field of science. For example, Newton created the first paradigm of the field of physical optics. (13) Before Newton, there were scientists addressing the topic but their cumulative work wasn’t science. Different fields of science enter into their first paradigm at different times. Kuhn isn’t even sure if social science has acquired their first paradigm. (15)

Paradigms are intrinsically tied to a community. A paradigm governs the behavior of the practitioners. The scientists adhere to the qualities, standards and practices of the paradigm and, in return, the paradigm provides a taken-for-granted baseline that allows the scientists to explore more specific and nuanced questions. They do not need to reinvent the wheel. Scientist can leave the basics of their field to the textbooks. “In that role [a paradigm] functions by telling the scientist about the entities that nature does and does not contain and about the ways in which those entities behave.” (109)

The paradigm guides the research of its adherents through shared scientific theory, methods and often a set of rules. However, Kuhn strongly argues that paradigms are not simply the sum of the rules. A paradigm may exist without rules. A paradigm may be so set within a community, that the rules and traditions aren’t apparent. Also, multiple paradigms can share the same rules; therefore, rules do not distinguish a paradigm. A paradigm will provide a map, though. “And since nature is too complex and varied to be explored at random, that map is as essential as observation and experiment to science’s continuing development.” (109)

Scientific Revolution
According to Kuhn, a scientific revolution refers to: “those non-cumulative developmental episodes in which an older paradigm is replaced in whole or in part by an incompatible new one” (Kuhn, Structure 92). When numerous anomalies occur that cannot be resolved within a given paradigm, a period of crisis can occur within a scientific community, in which members lose confidence in the current paradigm and begin to consider alternatives. During this crisis, the nature of research changes from normal to extraordinary: “The proliferation of competing articulations, the willingness to try anything, the expression of explicit discontent, the recourse to philosophy and to debate over fundamentals, all these are symptoms of a transition from normal to extraordinary research” (91). A crisis need not lead to a scientific revolution; if the anomalies are able to be incorporated into the existing paradigm, science may return to normal. However, when a critical mass begins to accept an alternative paradigm, a paradigm shift occurs, which is what Khun considers to be a revolution.

A revolution or paradigm shift results in what has been likened to a shift in visual gestalt, or a change in world-view: “a reconstruction of the field from new fundamentals, a reconstruction that challenges some of the field’s most elementary theoretical generalizations…when the transition is complete, the profession will have changed its view of the field, its methods, and its goals” (85). The incommensurability of the new and old paradigms after a revolution means that the history of science is not a linear progression, nor is its knowledge cumulative. Eventually, normal science resumes under the new paradigm. Kuhn argues that the reason such revolutions remain largely invisible in the historical narrative of science is because they are ‘systematically disguised’ (135) in scientific textbooks which reflect only the current paradigm; the historical record is revised and smoothed out to appear linear and cumulative (138).

Social Construction of Technology (SCOT)
a. Social constructivism refers to “[t]he treatment of scientific knowledge as social construction implies that there is nothing epistemologically special about the nature of scientific knowledge: It is merely one in a whole series of knowledge cultures” (Pinch & Bijker, pg. 19). These approaches shifted the study of science from a review of the institution (e.g. norms, career patterns, and reward structures) to the approach to science and scientific knowledge as being sites of social production. This was somewhat controversial in that science was no longer privileged above any other form of knowledge production.

b. SCOT – is a “multidirectional model, in contrast with the linear models used explicitly in many innovation studies and implicity in much history of technology” (Pinch & Bijker, pg. 28). This social constructivist approach to technology challenged the typical story that showed only progressive successes. This particular approach makes it “possible to ask why some of the variants ‘die,’ whereas others ‘survive’” (Pinch & Bijker, pg. 29). Groups are defined by their similar interpretation of a specific artifact (Pinch & Bijker, pg. 30). It should be noted that this stands in stark contrast to technological determinism, in which the technology unidirectionally changes society. This approach also served as a substantial shift in the way that technological advancement was both studied and the way that its stories were told. In the end, Punch and Bijker establish a common ground and complimentary methods exhibited in EPOR and SCOT, thereby staking a claim for the unification of the study of science and technology. In the end, they also identify the difficulty in differentiating between science and technology (Pinch & Bijker, pg. 47).

Technological Momentum
(Hughes 76 -80) - This is the condition in which systems develop a mass of technical and organizational components to the point at which the technological system develops goals and creates the perception of velocity. Components within the system interact to modify the environment in order to sustain and develop the system further. Humans and human organizations in the system develop a personal stake in the continued sustainment and growth of the system. Moreover, large capital intensive systems have a durability that suggests Hughes is careful to point out that these systems are not autonomous but do produce a quality that is analogous to inertia.

Hughes acknowledges that the momentum of large technological systems can give the appearance of being self propagating suggestive of systems that drive social development. They can appear to be closed systems immune to external influences and propelled along a trajectory of development only by their own inertia. However, Hughes argues, they are not autonomous and over time technological momentum can be overcome be any number of environmental factors to include government regulation, and market dynamics.

Hughes provides several useful examples of technological momentum. One example is Ford system of production of the automobile. Another example is the growth of electric power. What began as a novelty became the power for mass transit and rapidly expanded as new uses for electricity were discovered. (Nye 1990) However the methods of production and distribution changed significantly. And although some systems seemed dominant they were surpassed. Hughes provides as an example the early British system of locally generated power. Although smaller power networks seemed to fit the political structure and regulatory regime at the time the imposition of national regulatory policies during World War II forced interconnection of local systems into a national grid. Hughes also provides the familiar example of nuclear power in post-World War II United States. Although many anticipated that nuclear power would be quickly integrated into the national power system and would rapidly dominate; market considerations and environmental activism halted that progression.

Nye, David. 1990. Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New Technology, 1880-1940. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Technological Systems
(Hughes 51) – The components of the system are socially constructed and shaped by society to work together to achieve the goals of the system. They are created by systems builders and are made up of both physical and non-physical artifacts that operate in a specific operating environment. The components of the system are socially constructed and shaped by society to work together to achieve the goals of the system.

Hughes refers to Law’s concept of heterogeneous engineers to describe system builders. This implies that systems builders working in three domains of social and technical artifacts and nature to build systems. (Law 2011) System builders are not simply engineers or technologists. They manipulate all aspects of the develop system and the natural environment to build a technological system. The purpose of these manipulations is to create a system that reorders the physical world in order to achieve objectives of interest to the system builders.
Hughes applies a broad understanding of artifacts to describe the components of the system. These artifacts can include physical artifacts such as specific technologies like generators and turbines and nonphysical artifacts that can include legislation, text books. They a can also include other systems such as banks and manufacturing firms. These components interact with each other and if one component is removed or altered the others are also modified to accommodate the change.

Systems function in environments that are made up of intractable elements that are not under the control of the system. Hughes asserts that the technological system can be dependent on the environment it operates in or the environment can be dependent upon the system. In either case Hughes asserts that influence between the system and the environment is unidirectional.

In summary, technological systems are collections of physical and nonphysical artifacts brought together to reorder the physical world in such a way to solve problems or meet goals of interest to the system builders.

Law, John. 2011. Heterogeneous Engineering and Tinkering. Heterogenieties: 18. Accessed 17 September 2015.

Describes the combination of science and technology, both in theory (technology viewed within the lens of science studies, or science viewed through the lens of technology studies) and in practice (e.g. the use of technology in scientific practice, or the use of science to develop new technologies). According to Warwick Anderson (2002), examining technoscience in a postcolonial context allows us to see the ways in which Western science and technology spread around the world as a result of colonialism/imperialism, and to dismantle the “binaries… global/local, first-world/third-world, Western/Indigenous” that we use to describe the origins and traditions of both Western and non-Western science and technology (645).

Anderson, Warwick. "Introduction: Postcolonial Technoscience." Social Studies of Science 32, 6 May 2002

Translation describes the process where social interests, forces, or experiences travel and shift in meaning to be enacted upon within a scientific environment. For Latour, translation is the key to success in gaining support from different social groups in regards to scientific endeavors (144). This process makes it possible for large-scale environments to be scaled down into the laboratory, thus making the microscopic suddenly visible. As Latour writes of Pasteur’s translation in analyzing the anthrax bacilli, “The change of scale makes possible a reversal of the actors' strengths; 'outside' animals, farmers and veterinarians were weaker than the invisible anthrax bacillus; inside Pasteur's lab, man becomes stronger than the bacillus” (147). Thus, the interests of the farmer and Pasteur are aligned through a conversion of language, technology, and environment. Translation helps to demonstrate a correspondence in interests across varied social forms.

This term does not only apply to the relationship between those ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ of the laboratory, but also within the internal structure of the laboratory itself. Knorr-Cetina writes” The choice of… a specific temperature or of the timing of an experiment is a choice among alternative means and courses of action: These selections, in turn, can only be made with respect to other selections: they are based on translations into further selections” (121). Thus, translation can operate on multiple and divergent scales, serving different interests along the way. This allows for deeper understanding of how translation within scientific communities can demonstrate how decision-making shapes the construction of the laboratory.

Of significance to both Latour’s and Knorr-Cetina’s use of the term is to better understand how the social and the scientific are connected (Cetina 123, Latour 155). Translation is a tool that allows for the study how social, political, and cultural concerns can be ‘transformed’ within the scientific space (Latour 159). The study of this process demonstrates the locus of power as it originates from laboratories and travels into various social spaces (Latour 160). Translation helps to show that in creating defined boundaries around ‘what is science’ and ‘what is social’ obfuscates the interstices between the two.

Technological Determinism
This term refers to “technology was a separate sphere, developing independently of society, following its own autonomous logic, and then having effects on society” (Mackenzie and Wajcman, p. xiv). In this context, Mackenzie and Wajcman use technology determinism in both politically and intellectually. Politically, they emphasize, “it seems to us to encourage a passive attitude to an enormously important part of our lives. It discouraged creative engagement with technology, narrowing the apparent range of political possibility to a limited and unattractive set of options: uncritical embracing of technological change, defensive adaption to it, simple rejection of it. Intellectually, technological determinism seemed to us to reduce the intimate intertwining of society and technology to simple cause-and-effect sequence” (ibid). Using technological determinism, they are more like to analysis how technology affects society without any influence from society. According to Mackenzie and Wajcman, as a theory of society, technological determinism treats technology matter not just physically and biologically, but also to our human relations to each other (p.5). In addition, “In more extreme varieties of technological determinism, the technology is seen as the most significant determinant of the nature of a society” (Mackay and Gillespie p.686)

The Social Shaping of Technology: according to Mackenzie and Wajcman, the social shaping of technology is a process in which there is no single dominant shaping force (p.16). They also explain that social shaping means not just of the overall contours of a technology, but of specific, apparently ‘pure technical’, features of technological designs, of engineering research, and even of mathematical models of artifacts (p.17). There are two points in the social shaping of technology. First, “emphasis on the social shaping of technology is wholly compatible with a thoroughly realist, even a materialist, viewpoint. What is being shaped in the social shaping of artifacts us no mere thought-stuff, but obdurate physical reality. Second, social shaping does not necessarily involve reference to wider societal relations such as those of class, gender, and ethnicity” (p.18-19). This approach is more likely to study the social, political, cultural dimensional aspects of technology.

Mackay, Hugie, and Gillespie, Gareth, Extending the Social Shaping of Technology Approach: Ideology and appropriation, Social Studies of Science, Vol 22 No. 4 (Nov, 1992) 685-712

MacKenzie, Donald and Wajcman, Judy, The Social Shaping of Technology 2nd edition, Buckingham, Open University Press, 1999

Users and Non-Users
Oudshoorn and Pinch (2005) explore how users and non-users shape technology, through how they "consume, modify, domesticate, design, reconfigure, and resist technologies” (1), and re-open technology after the initial designers set the course for a given technology, with expectations of proper use and lead users. The story of modern technology innovation arises from the secondary and subsequent uses. Oudshoorn and Pinch open with the discussion of how a plane became used as a weapon in the attacks of 9/11 and continue with a wide-ranging set of examples and cases for how users and non-users shape socio-technical innovation. The inclusion of non-users is particularly novel, but even acknowledging the multiplicity and diversity of users, and the role of users in shaping design, use and meaning of technologies offers a strongly productive STS approach. Learning how to seek input from users and non-users of all perspectives is crucial to transforming socio-technical innovations, from open source software to new uses for existing technologies.

Oudshoorn, Nellie and Trevor Pinch. "Introduction: How Users and Non-Users Matter." In How Users Matter: The Co-Construction of Users and Technology, edited by Nellie Oudshoorn and Trevor Pinch, 1-27. Boston: MIT Press, 2005.

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