Science, technology and society

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Science, technology and society (STS), also referred to as science and technology studies is a branch or offspring of science studies. It considers how social, political, and cultural values affect scientific research and technological innovation, and how these, in turn, affect society, politics and culture.


STS is a new and expanding subject. Like most interdisciplinary programs, it emerged from the confluence of a variety of disciplines and disciplinary subfields, all of which had developed an interest — typically, during the 1960s or 1970s — in viewing science and technology as socially embedded enterprises.[1] The key disciplinary components of STS took shape independently, beginning in the 1960s, and developed in isolation from each other well into the 1980s, although Ludwik Fleck's monograph (1935) Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact anticipated many of STS's key themes. In the 1970s Elting E. Morison founded the STS program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which served as a model. By 2011 111 STS programs were counted.[2]

Key Themes:

  • History of technology, that examines technology in its social and historical context. Starting in the 1960s, some historians questioned technological determinism, a doctrine that can induce public passivity to technologic and scientific 'natural' development. At the same time, some historians began to develop similarly contextual approaches to the history of medicine.
  • History and philosophy of science (1960s). After the publication of Thomas Kuhn's well-known The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), which attributed changes in scientific theories to changes in underlying intellectual paradigms, programs were founded at the University of California, Berkeley and elsewhere that brought historians of science and philosophers together in unified programs.
  • Science, technology, and society In the mid- to late-1960s, student and faculty social movements in the U.S., UK, and European universities helped to launch a range of new interdisciplinary fields (such as women's studies) that were seen to address relevant topics that the traditional curriculum ignored. One such development was the rise of "science, technology, and society" programs, which are also—confusingly—known by the STS acronym. Drawn from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, history, political science, and sociology, scholars in these programs created undergraduate curricula devoted to exploring the issues raised by science and technology. Unlike scholars in science studies, history of technology, or the history and philosophy of science, they were and are more likely to see themselves as activists working for change rather than dispassionate, "ivory tower" researchers[citation needed]. As an example of the activist impulse, feminist scholars in this and other emerging STS areas addressed themselves to the exclusion of women from science and engineering.
  • Science, engineering, and public policy studies emerged in the 1970s from the same concerns that motivated the founders of the science, technology, and society movement: A sense that science and technology were developing in ways that were increasingly at odds with the public's best interests.[according to whom?] The science, technology, and society movement tried to humanize those who would make tomorrow's science and technology, but this discipline took a different approach: It would train students with the professional skills needed to become players in science and technology policy. Some programs came to emphasize quantitative methodologies, and most of these were eventually absorbed into systems engineering. Others emphasized sociological and qualitative approaches, and found that their closest kin could be found among scholars in science, technology, and society departments.[citation needed]

During the 1970s and 1980s, leading universities in the US, UK, and Europe began drawing these various components together in new, interdisciplinary programs. For example, in the 1970s, Cornell University developed a new program that united science studies and policy-oriented scholars with historians and philosophers of science and technology. Each of these programs developed unique identities due to variation in the components that were drawn together, as well as their location within the various universities. For example, the University of Virginia's STS program united scholars drawn from a variety of fields (with particular strength in the history of technology); however, the program's teaching responsibilities—it is located within an engineering school and teaches ethics to undergraduate engineering students—means that all of its faculty share a strong interest in engineering ethics.[citation needed]

The "turn to technology" (and beyond)[edit]

A decisive moment in the development of STS was the mid-1980s addition of technology studies to the range of interests reflected in science . During that decade, two works appeared en seriatim that signaled what Steve Woolgar was to call the "turn to technology": Social Shaping of Technology (MacKenzie and Wajcman, 1985) and The Social Construction of Technological Systems (Bijker, Hughes and Pinch, 1987). MacKenzie and Wajcman primed the pump by publishing a collection of articles attesting to the influence of society on technological design. In a seminal article, Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker attached all the legitimacy of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge to this development by showing how the sociology of technology could proceed along precisely the theoretical and methodological lines established by the sociology of scientific knowledge. This was the intellectual foundation of the field they called the social construction of technology.

The "turn to technology" helped to cement an already growing awareness of underlying unity among the various emerging STS programs. More recently, there has been an associated turn to ecology, nature, and materiality in general, whereby the socio-technical and natural/material co-produce each other. This is especially evident in work in STS analyses of biomedicine (such as Carl May, Annemarie Mol, Nelly Oudshoorn, and Andrew Webster) and ecological interventions (such as Bruno Latour, Sheila Jasanoff, Matthias Gross, S. Lochlann Jain, and Jens Lachmund).

Professional associations[edit]

The subject has several professional associations.

Founded in 1975, the Society for Social Studies of Science, initially provided scholarly communication facilities, including a journal (Science, Technology, and Human Values) and annual meetings that were mainly attended by science studies scholars. The society has since grown into the most important professional association of science and technology studies scholars worldwide. The Society for Social Studies of Science members also include government and industry officials concerned with research and development as well as science and technology policy; scientists and engineers who wish to better understand the social embeddedness of their professional practice; and citizens concerned about the impact of science and technology in their lives. Proposals have been made to add the word "technology" to the association's name, thereby reflecting its stature as the leading STS professional society, but there seems to be widespread sentiment[according to whom?] that the name is long enough as it is.

In Europe, the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST)[3] was founded in 1981 to stimulate communication, exchange and collaboration in the field of studies of science and technology. Similarly, the European Inter-University Association on Society, Science and Technology (ESST) researches and studies science and technology in society, in both historical and contemporary perspectives.

In Asia several STS associations exist. In Japan, the Japanese Society for Science and Technology Studies (JSSTS)[4] was founded in 2001. The Asia Pacific Science Technology & Society Network (APSTSN)[5] primarily has members from Australasia, Southeast and East Asia and Oceania.

Founded in 1958, the Society for the History of Technology initially attracted members from the history profession who had interests in the contextual history of technology. After the "turn to technology" in the mid-1980s, the society's well-regarded journal (Technology and Culture) and its annual meetings began to attract considerable interest from non-historians with technology studies interests.

Less identified with STS, but also of importance to many STS scholars in the US, are the History of Science Society, the Philosophy of Science Association, and the American Association for the History of Medicine. In addition, there are significant STS-oriented special interest groups within major disciplinary associations, including the American Anthropological Association, the American Political Science Association, and the American Sociological Association.


Notable peer-reviewed journals in STS include: Social Studies of Science; Science, Technology & Human Values; Science & Technology Studies; Technology in Society; Research Policy; Minerva: A Journal of Science, Learning and Policy; Science, Technology and Society; Science as Culture; Technology and Culture; and Science and Public Policy.

Student journals in STS include: Intersect: the Stanford Journal of Science, Technology, and Society at Stanford; DEMESCI: International Journal of Deliberative Mechanisms in Science; and Synthesis: An Undergraduate Journal of the History of Science at Harvard.

Important concepts[edit]

Deliberative Democracy[edit]

Deliberative Democracy is a reform of representative or direct democracies which mandates discussion and debate of popular topics which affect society. Deliberative Democracy is a tool for making decisions. Deliberative Democracy can be traced back all the way to Aristotle’s writings. More recently, the term was coined by Joseph Bessette in his 1980 work "Deliberative Democracy: The Majority Principle in Republican Government," where he uses the idea in opposition to the elitist interpretations of the United States Constitution with emphasis on public discussion.[6]

Deliberative Democracy can lead to more legitimate, credible, and trustworthy outcomes. Deliberative Democracy allows for "a wider range of public knowledge," and it has been argued that this can lead to "more socially intelligent and robust" science. One major shortcoming of deliberative democracy is that many models insufficiently ensure critical interaction.[7]

According to Ryfe, there are five mechanisms that stand out as critical to the successful design of deliberative democracy:

  • Rules of equality, civility, and inclusivity may prompt deliberation even when our first impulse is to avoid it.
  • Stories anchor reality by organizing experience and instilling a normative commitment to civic identities and values, and function as a medium for framing discussions.
  • Leadership provides important cues to individuals in deliberative settings, and can keep groups on a deliberative track when their members slip into routine and habit.
  • Individuals are more likely to sustain deliberative reasoning when they have a stake in the outcomes.
  • Apprenticeship teaches citizens to deliberate well. We might do well to imagine education as a form of apprenticeship learning, in which individuals learn to deliberate by doing it in concert with others more skilled in the activity.[8]

Importance of DD in STS[edit]

Recently, there has been a movement towards greater transparency in the fields of policy and technology. Jasanoff comes to the conclusion that there is no longer a question of if there needs to be increased public participation in making decisions about science and technology, but now there needs to be ways to make a more meaningful conversation between the public and those developing the technology.[9]

Deliberative Democracy in Practice[edit]

Ackerman and Fishkin offer an example of a reform in their paper "Deliberation Day." The deliberation is to enhance public understanding of popular, complex, and controversial issues, through devices such as Fishkin’s Deliberative Polling.[10] Although implementation of these reforms is unlikely in a large government situation such as the United States Federal Government. However, things similar to this have been implemented in small, local, governments like New England towns and villages. New England town hall meetings are a good example of deliberative democracy in a realistic setting.[6]

An ideal Deliberative Democracy balances the voice and influence of all participants. While the main aim is to reach consensus, a deliberative democracy should encourage the voices of those with opposing viewpoints, concerns due to uncertainties, and questions about assumptions made by other participants. It should take its time and ensure that those participating understand the topics on which they debate. Independent managers of debates should also have substantial grasp of the concepts discussed, but must "[remain] independent and impartial as to the outcomes of the process."[7]

Tragedy of the Commons[edit]

see also: Tragedy of the Commons

In 1968, Garrett Hardin coined the phrase "Tragedy of the Commons." It is an economic theory where rational people act against the best interest of the group by consuming a common resource. Since then, the Tragedy of the Commons has been used to symbolize the degradation of the environment whenever many individuals use a common resource. Although Garrett Hardin was not an STS scholar, the concept of Tragedy of the Commons still applies to science, technology and society.[11]

The internet is a science, technology and society example where tragedy of the commons is relevant as physical resources that are being exploited gets protected by legislation, the internet is a free market which is easily exploitable such as privacy. Data and internet passwords can be stolen much more easily than physical documents. Virtual spying is almost free compared to the costs of physical spying.[12]

A counterexample to the tragedy of the commons is offered by Andrew Kahrl. Privatization is normally a healthy way to deal with the tragedy of the commons. Kahrl suggests that the privatization of beaches on Long Island, in an attempt to combat overuse of Long Island beaches, made the residents of Long Island more susceptible to flood damage from Hurricane Sandy. The privatization of these beaches took away from the protection offered by the natural landscape. Tidal lands that offer natural protection were drained and developed. This attempt to combat the tragedy of the commons by privatization was counter-productive. Privatization actually destroyed the public good of natural protection from the landscape.[13]

Alternative Modernity[edit]

Modernity is a conceptual tool used to represent the state of present society, specifically as it relates to the interaction between different individuals, unique groups. Because change in society is inevitable, we are always moving towards a new, or alternative, "Modernity". Within the field of science and technology, there are two main lenses from which to leverage this tool.

Modernity[14][15] is a conceptual tool conventionally used to represent the state of present western society. Modernity represents the political and social structures of the society, the sum of interpersonal discourse, and ultimately a snapshot of societies direction at a point in time. Unfortunately conventional Modernity is incapable of modeling alternative directions for further growth within our society. Also, this concept is ineffective at analyzing similar but unique modern societies such as those found in the diverse cultures of the developing world. Problems can be summarized into two elements, inward failure to analyze growth potentials of a given society, and outward failure to model different cultures and social structures and predict their growth potentials.

Previously, Modernity carries a connotation of the current state of being modern, and its evolution through European colonialism. The process of becoming "modern" is believed to occur in a linear, pre-determined way, and is seen by Philip Brey as a way of to interpret and evaluate social and cultural formations. This thought ties in with the Modernization theory, the thought that societies progress from 'pre-modern' to 'modern' societies.

  • First: The first is as a way to quantify what modern society we want to move towards. In effect, we can discuss the notion of "alternative modernity" (as described by Andrew Feenberg) and which of these we would like to move towards.
  • Second: Alternatively, We can apply this tool to conceptualize the differences in interactions between cultures and individuals in present society. From this perspective, alternative modernities exist simultaneously, based on differing cultural and societal status quo's. Because each one of these groups will interact with technology differently, each will be a different modernity.

Thinking of "alternative modernities" we must consider the current state of pre-modern societies and the largest issues that they face. Only through this can we identify modernization and alternatives to this inevitable process.

Pace of Innovation[edit]

Pace of Innovation is the speed at which technological innovation or advancement is occurring, with the most apparent instances being too slow or too rapid. Both these rates of innovation are extreme and therefore have effects on the people that get to use this technology.

No Innovation Without Representation[edit]


No innovation without representation is a democratic ideal of ensuring that everyone involved gets a chance to be represented fairly in technological developments.

  • Langdon Winner (Thomas Phelan Chair of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, NY) states that groups and social interests likely to be affected by a particular kind of technological change ought to be represented at an early stage in defining exactly what that technology will be. It is the idea that relevant parties have a say in technological developments and are not left in the dark.[16]
  • Spoken about by current professor Massimiano Bucchi (Ph.D. Social and Political science, European University Institute, 1997) of the University of Trento in Italy.[17]
  • This ideal does not require the public to become experts on the topics of science and engineering, it only asks that the opinions and ideas be heard before making drastic decisions, as talked about by Steven L. Goldman (Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor in Humanities at Lehigh University).[18]

Privileged Positions of Business and Science[edit]

The privileged positions of business and science refer to the unique authority that persons in these areas hold in economic, political, and technosocial affairs. Businesses have strong decision-making abilities in the function of society, essentially choosing what technological innovations to develop. Scientists and technologists have valuable knowledge, ability to pursue the technological innovations they want. They proceed largely without public scrutiny and as if they had the consent of those potentially affected by their discoveries and creations.

Legacy Thinking[edit]

Legacy thinking is defined as an inherited method of thinking imposed from an external source without objection by the individual, due to the fact that it is already widely accepted by society.

Legacy thinking can impair the ability to drive technology for the betterment of society by blinding people to innovations that do not fit into their accepted model of how society works. By accepting ideas without questioning them, people often see all solutions that contradict these accepted ideas as impossible or impractical. Legacy thinking tends to advantage the wealthy, who have the means to project their ideas on the public. It may be used by the wealthy as a vehicle to drive technology in their favor rather than for the greater good. Examining the role of citizen participation and representation in politics provides an excellent example of legacy thinking in society. The belief that one can spend money freely to gain influence has been popularized, leading to public acceptance of corporate lobbying. As a result, a self-established role in politics has been cemented where the public does not exercise the power ensured to them by the Constitution to the fullest extent. This can become a barrier to political progress as corporations who have the capital to spend have the potential to wield great influence over policy.[19] Legacy thinking however keeps the population from acting to change this, despite polls from Harris Interactive that report over 80% of Americans feel that big business holds too much power in government.[20] Therefore, Americans are beginning to try to steer away this line of thought, rejecting legacy thinking, and demanding less corporate, and more public, participation in political decision making.

Additionally, an examination of net neutrality functions as a separate example of legacy thinking. Starting with dial-up, the internet has always been viewed as a private luxury good.[citation needed] Internet today is a vital part of modern-day society members. They use it in and out of life every day.[21] Corporations are able to mislabel and greatly overcharge for their internet resources. Since the American public is so dependent upon internet there is little for them to do. Legacy thinking has kept this pattern on track despite growing movements arguing that the internet should be considered a utility. Legacy thinking prevents progress because it was widely accepted by others before us through advertising that the internet is a luxury and not a utility. Due to pressure from grassroots movements the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has redefined the requirements for broadband and internet in general as a utility.[21] Now AT&T and other major internet providers are lobbying against this action and are in-large able to delay the onset of this movement due to legacy thinking’s grip on American culture and politics.

For example, those who cannot overcome the barrier of legacy thinking may not consider the privatization of clean drinking water as an issue.[22] This is partially due to the fact that access to water has become such a given fact of the matter to them. For a person living in such circumstances, it may be widely accepted to not concern themselves with drinking water because they have not needed to be concerned with it in the past. Additionally, a person living within an area that does not need to worry about their water supply or the sanitation of their water supply is less likely to be concerned with the privatization of water.

This notion can be examined through the thought experiment of "veil of ignorance".[23] Legacy thinking causes people to be particularly ignorant about the implications behind the "you get what you pay for" mentality applied to a life necessity. By utilizing the "veil of ignorance", one can overcome the barrier of legacy thinking as it requires a person to imagine that they are unaware of their own circumstances, allowing them to free themselves from externally imposed thoughts or widely accepted ideas.

STS Social Construction[edit]

Social constructions are human created ideas, objects, or events created by a series of choices and interactions.[24] These interactions have consequences that change the perception that different groups of people have on these constructs. Some examples of social construction include class, race, money, and citizenship.

The following also alludes to the notion that not everything is set, a circumstance or result could potentially be one way or the other. According to the What is Social Construction? by Laura Flores, "Social construction work is critical of the status quo. Social constructionists about X tend to hold that:

  1. X need not have existed, or need not be at all as it is. X, or X as it is at present, is not determined by the nature of things; it is not inevitable

Very often they go further, and urge that:

  1. X is quite as bad as it is.
  2. We would be much better off if X were done away with, or at least radically transformed." In the past we have seen that some "knowledge" or "facts" have been disproven as new knowledge comes a long and helps our society be better informed or educated on things that were once not questioned. Such "knowledge" includes the past concept of a correlation between intelligence and the nature of a human's ethnicity or race (X may not be at all as it is).[25]


Main article: Technoscience

Technoscience is a subset of Science, Technology, and Society studies that focuses on the inseparable connection between science and technology. It states that fields are linked and grow together, and scientific knowledge requires an infrastructure of technology in order to remain stationary or move forward. Both technological development and scientific discovery drive one another towards more advancement. Technoscience excels at shaping human thought and behavior by opening up new possibilities that gradually or quickly come to be perceived as necessities.[26]


The intention of high-wheel bicycle is to get a higher translational velocity over the ground via replacing the front wheel with a lager-radius wheel. However, this attempt lead to the unstable of riding experience and potential harm. For young athletes and enthusiastic youth, this bicycle means passion. However, for some elder and women, they worry about the issue when a large wheel hit a piece of brick or stone, when rider try to check the wheel, the sudden check usually threw the rider over the handle bar. Therefore, a technological innovation or progress caused some unintended and undesired consequences. The social construction of safety caused the design of the bicycle to change to a more safe design.[27]

Gentle Tyranny[edit]


Gentle Tyranny is a sociological concept that describes the unintended restrictions placed on a population through social constructs. Some hallmarks of gentle tyranny include restriction on choice and is typically very subtle. The concept of Gentle Tyranny can be generally thought of as a projection of "Hobson’s choice", wherein the illusion of choice is presented, but in reality, the consumer (in the classic example) actually has none. Referencing a stable owner named Thomas Hobson (1544-1631), he infamously would offer customers the choice of buying the horse in the stall closest to the door or not purchasing one at all. This "take it or leave it" attitude is endemic to Gentle Tyranny. While Gentle Tyranny is not explicitly defined in sociological circles, but more a general nomenclature for certain social and technological side effects, including the unintended consequences that arise from new developments. However, Gentle Tyranny, across all fronts, describes the phenomena of "living with the enduring consequences of sociotechnical changes that occurred years of even generations ago."[28]


Examples of Gentle Tyranny can be found in virtually every social and technological sector. Some, such as environmental pollution and "brown chemicals",[29] do not involve an explicit choice by the affected population whatsoever. The waste generated as a side effect of large-scale manufacturing is a prime example of this form of gentle tyranny. While the population affected isn’t forced to endure the reduction in air quality (i.e. they are free to move, wear a respirator, etc.), these "take it or leave it"[28] options are not necessarily feasible and place an unsolicited burden on the population. Gentle Tyranny can also involve an explicit decision made by the public, but under duress, in a sense, to avoid larger societal backlash. While purchasing an automobile is completely voluntary, the architecture of our society, both literally and metaphorically, presents serious consequences for certain people. Transit by other means is not always feasible, particularly with workers whose commute would not otherwise be possible. Facing restricted travel or unemployment, there is not a "choice" in the true sense whether or not to own an automobile.[28]



"Technological action is a social process."[30] Social factors and technology are intertwined so that they are dependent upon each other. This includes the aspect that social, political, and economic factors are inherent in technology and that social structure influences what technologies are pursued. In other words, "technoscientific phenomena combined inextricably with social/political/ economic/psychological phenomena, so ‘technology' includes a spectrum of artifacts, techniques, organizations, and systems."[31] Winner expands on this idea by saying "in the late twentieth century technology and society, technology and culture, technology and politics are by no means separate."[32]

Specific Examples:

  • Ford Pinto[33] - Ford Motor Company sold and produced the Pinto during the 1970s. A flaw in the automobile design of the rear gas tank caused a fiery explosion upon impact. The exploding fuel tank killed and injured hundreds of people. Internal documents of test results, proved Ford CEO Lee Iacocca and engineers were aware of . The company decided to ignore improving their technology because of profit-driven motives, strict internal control, and competition from foreign competitors such as Volkswagen. Ford Motor Company conducted a cost-benefit analysis to determine if altering the Ford Pinto model was feasible. An analysis conducted by Ford employees argued against a new design because of increased cost. Employees were also under tight control by the CEO who rushed the Pinto through production lines to increase profits. Ford finally changed are public scrutiny. Safety organizations later influenced this technology by requiring stricter safety standards for motor vehicles.
  • DDT/Toxins[31] - DDT was a common and highly effective insecticide used during the 1940s until its ban in the early 1970s. It was utilized during World War 2 to combat insect-borne human disease that plagued military members and civilian populations. People and companies soon realized other benefits of DDT for agricultural purposes. Rachel Carson became worried of wide spread use on public health and the environment. Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring," left an imprint on the industry by claiming linkage of DDT to many serious illness such as cancer. Carson's book drew criticism from chemical companies who felt their reputation and business threatened by such claims.. DDT was eventually banned by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after a long and arduous process of research on the chemical substance. The main cause for the removal of DDT was the public deciding that the benefits any outweighed potential health risk.
  • Autopilots/Computer Aided Tasks (CATs)[31] - From a security point of view the effects of making a task more computer driven is in the favor of technological advance because there is less reaction time required and computational error than a human pilot. Due to reduced error and reaction times flights on average, using autopilot, have been shown to be safer. Thus the technology has a direct impact on people by increasing their safety, and society affects the technology because people want to be safer so they are constantly trying to improve the autopilot systems.
  • Cell Phones[31]- Cell phone technology emerged in the early 1920s after advancements were made in radio technology. Engineers at Bell Laboratories, the research and development division of AT&T discovered that cell towers can transmit and receive signals to and from many directions. The discovery by Bell Labs revolutionized the capabilities and outcomes of cellular technology. Technology only improved once mobile phone users could communicate outside of a designated area. First generation mobile phones were first created and sold by Motorola. Their phone was only intended for use in cars. Second generation mobile phone capabilities continued to improve because of the switch to digital. Phones were faster which enhanced communication capabilities of customers. They were also sleeker and weighed less than bulky first generation technology. Technologically advances boosted customer satisfaction and broadened cell phone companies customer base. Third generation technology changed the way people interact with other. Now customers had access to wifi, texting and other applications. Mobile phones are now entering into the fourth generations. Cellular and mobile phones revolutionized the way people socialize and communicate in order to establish modern social structure . People have affected the development of this technology by demanding features such as larger screens, touch capabilities, and internet accessibility.
  • Internet[31] - The internet arose because of extensive research on ARPANET between various university, corporations, and ARPA (Advanced Research Project Agency), an agency of the Department of Defense. Scientist theorized a network of computers connected to each other. Computing capabilities contributed to developments and the creation of the modern day computer or laptop . The internet has become a normal part of life and business, to such a degree that the united nations views it as a basic human right. The internet is becoming larger, one way is that more things are being moved into the digital world due to demand, for example online banking. It has drastically changed the way most people go about daily habits.

Concepts related to Technosocial[edit]

  • Technoscience[31]-The perception that science and technology are intertwined and depend on each other.
  • Technosociety[34]- An industrially developed society with a reliance on technology.
  • Technological Utopianism - A positive outlook on the effect technology has on social welfare. Includes the perception that technology will one day enable society to reach a utopian state.
  • Technosocial Systems[35]-Technosocial Systems are people and technologies that combine to work as heterogeneous but functional wholes.

Classifications of Technosocial[edit]

  • Technological Optimism[36] - The opinion that technology has positive effects on society and should be used in order to improve the welfare of people.
  • Technological Pessimism[36]- The opinion that technology has negative effects on society and should be discouraged from use.
  • Technological Neutrality[35] -"maintains that a given technology has no systematic effects on society: individuals are perceived as ultimately responsible, for better or worse, because technologies are merely tools people use for their own ends."
  • Technological Determinism[35]- "maintains that technologies are understood as simply and directly causing particular societal outcomes."
  • Scientism[37]- The belief in the total separation of facts and values.
  • Technological Progressivism[37]- technology is a means to an end itself and an inherently positive pursuit.




STS Social Construction[edit]


Social constructions are human created ideas, objects, or events created by a series of choices and interactions.[24] These interactions have consequences that change the perception that different groups of people have on these constructs. Some examples of social construction include gender, class, race, money, and citizenship.

The following also alludes to the notion that not everything is set, a circumstance or result could potentially be one way or the other. According to the What is Social Construction? by Laura Flores, "Social construction work is critical of the status quo. Social constructionists about X tend to hold that:

  1. X need not have existed, or need not be at all as it is. X, or X as it is at present, is not determined by the nature of things; it is not inevitable

Very often they go further, and urge that:

  1. X is quite as bad as it is.
  2. We would be much better off if X were done away with, or at least radically transformed." In the past we have seen that some "knowledge" or "facts" have been disproven as new knowledge comes a long and helps our society be better informed or educated on things that were once not questioned. Such "knowledge" includes the past concept of a correlation between intelligence and the nature of a human's ethnicity or race (X may not be at all as it is).[25]


The intention of high-wheel bicycle is to get a higher translational velocity over the ground via replacing the front wheel with a lager-radius wheel. However, this attempt lead to the unstable of riding experience and potential harm. For young athletes and enthusiastic youth, this bicycle means passion. However, for some elder and women, they worry about the issue when a large wheel hit a piece of brick or stone, when rider try to check the wheel, the sudden check usually threw the rider over the handle bar. Therefore, a technological innovation or progress caused some unintended and undesired consequences. The social construction of safety caused the design of the bicycle to change to a more safe design.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bijker, W. E., Hughes, T. P., Pinch, T. and Douglas, D. G., The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2012.
  2. ^ The STS Wiki.
  3. ^ European Association for the Study of Science and Technology.
  4. ^ Japanese Society for Science and Technology Studies
  5. ^ Asia Pacific Science Technology & Society Network
  6. ^ a b Bohman, James (1998). "The Coming of Age of Deliberative Democracy". The Journal of Political Philosophy 6 (4): 400–425. 
  7. ^ a b Chilvers, Jason (March 2008). "Deliberating Competence, Theoretical and Practitioners Perspectives on Effective Participatory Appraisal Practice". Science, Technology, & Human Values 33 (2). Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  8. ^ Ryfe, David M. (March 4, 2005). "Does Deliberative Democracy Work?". Annual Review of Political Science 8: 63–64. doi:10.1146/annurev.polisci.8.032904.154633. Retrieved April 10, 2015. 
  9. ^ Jasanoff, Sheila (2003). "Technologies of Humility: Citizen Participation in Governing Science". Minerva 41 (3): 223–244. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  10. ^ Ackerman, Bruce; Fishkin, James S. "Deliberation Day". Center for American Progress. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  11. ^ Hardin, Garrett. "The Tragedy of the Commons" (PDF). American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  12. ^ Davidow, Bill. "The Tragedy of the Internet Commons". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  13. ^ Kahn, Matthew E. "Environmental and Urban Economics". Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  14. ^ Eisenstadt, Shmuel (Winter 2000). "Multiple Modernities". Dædalus. 
  15. ^ Feenberg, Andrew (1995). Alternative Modernity : The Technical Turn in Philosophy and Social Theory. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520089860. 
  16. ^ Winner, Langdon. "Artifact/Ideas and Political Culture." Technology and the Future (1993): 283-92. Print.
  17. ^ Bucchi, Massimiano. "No Innovation without Representation (A Parliament of Things for the New Technical Democracies)." 20 Dec. 2003. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
  18. ^ Goldman, Steven L. "No Innovation Without Representation: Technological Action in a Democratic Society." New Worlds, New Technologies, New Issues (1992): 148-60. Print.
  19. ^ Allison, Bill, and Sarah Harkins. "Fixed Fortunes: Biggest Corporate Political Interests Spend Billions, Get Trillions." Sunlight Foundation Blog. Sunlight Foundation, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
  20. ^ Corso, Regina, SVP. "PACs, Big Companies, Lobbyists, and Banks and Financial Institutions Seen by Strong Majorities as Having Too Much Power and Influence in DC." Harris Interactive: Harris Polls. Harris Interactive, 29 May 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2015
  21. ^ a b "Net Neutrality: A Free and Open Internet." The White House. The White House, 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
  22. ^ Flow. Oscilloscope Pictures, 2008. DVD.
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  24. ^ a b Woodhouse, Edward (2014). Science Technology and Society (1st ed.). San Diego: University Readers. p. 255. 
  25. ^ a b Hacking, Ian (1999). The Social Construction of What? (1st ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: President and Fellows of Harvard University. p. 6. ISBN 978-0674004122. 
  26. ^ Steven Lukes, Power: A Radical View (London: Macmillan, 1974)
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  28. ^ a b c Kirkman, Robert. "At Home in the Seamless Web". Science, Technology, & Human Values 34 (Sage Publications): 234–258. 
  29. ^ Woodhouse, Edward (August 2013). The Future of Technological Civilization. 
  30. ^ Goldman, S. (1992). No Innovation Without Representation (pp. 148-160). Troy, New York: Rensselaer.
  31. ^ a b c d e f Woodhouse, E. (2013). In The Future of Technological Civilization (Revised ed., pp. 1-258).
  32. ^ Winner, L. (1993). Artifacts/Ideas and Political Culture (pp. 283-292). Troy, New York: Rensselaer.
  33. ^ Dowie, M. (1977, October 1). Pinto Madness. Retrieved February 4, 2015, from
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  38. ^ Ludwik, Fleck (1979). Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact (in English). University of Chicago Press.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bauchspies, Wenda, Jennifer Croissant, and Sal Restivo (2005). Science, Technology, and Society: A Sociological Approach (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005).
  • Bijker, Wiebe, Hughes, Thomas & Pinch, Trevor, eds. (1987). The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology Cambridge MA/London: MIT Press.
  • Bijker, Wiebe and John Law, eds. (1994). Shaping Technology / Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (Inside Technology Series).
  • Bloor, David (1976). Knowledge and Social Imagery (Routledge, 1976; 2nd edition Chicago University Press, 1991)
  • Cowan, Ruth Schwartz (1983). More Work For Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology From the Open Hearth to the Microwave. New York, NY: Basic Books. 
  • Ewen, Stuart (2008). Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press. 
  • Foucault, Michel (1977). Discipline & Punish. New York, NY: Vintage Books. 
  • Fuller, Steve (1993). Philosophy, Rhetoric, and the End of Knowledge: The Coming of Science and Technology Studies. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.  (2nd edition, with James H. Collier, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004)
  • Gross, Matthias (2010). Ignorance and Surprise: Science, Society, Ecological Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (Inside Technology Series).
  • Hughes, Thomas (1989). American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870 – 1970. New York, NY: Viking. 
  • Jasanoff, Sheila, Markle, Gerald, Petersen, James and Pinch, Trevor, eds. (1994). Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Jasanoff, Sheila (2005). Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 
  • Kuhn, Thomas (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 
  • Lachmund, Jens (2013). Greening Berlin: The Co-production of Science, Politics, and Urban Nature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (Inside Technology Series).
  • Latour, Bruno (1987). Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 
  • Latour, Bruno (2004). Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences Into Democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 
  • Latour, Bruno and Steve Woolgar (1986) [1979]. Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 
  • MacKenzie, Donald & Wajcman, Judy (eds.) (1999). The Social Shaping of Technology: How the Refrigerator Got Its Hum, Milton Keynes, Open University Press.
  • MacKenzie, Donald (1996). Knowing Machines: Essays on Technical Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (Inside Technology Series).
  • Mol, Annemarie (2002). The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice, Duke University Press Books.
  • Restivo, Sal (editor-in-chief), Science, Technology, and Society: An Encyclopedia. New York: Oxford, 2005.
  • Restivo, Sal (1992), Mathematics in Society and History. New York: Springer.
  • Rip, Arie, Thomas J. Misa and Johan Schot, eds. (1995). Managing Technology in Society: The approach of Constructive Technology Assessment London/NY: Pinter.
  • Rosenberg, Nathan (1994) Exploring the Black Box: Technology, Economics and History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Shamir, Ronen (2013). Current Flow: The Electrification of Palestine. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Volti, Rudi (2001). Society and technological change. New York: Worth. 
  • Shaw, Jeffrey M (2014). Illusions of Freedom: Thomas Merton and Jacques Ellul on Technology and the Human Condition. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. 
  • Vinck, Dominique (2010). The Sociology of Scientific Work. The Fundamental Relationship between Science and Society. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
  • Vinck, Dominique (2003). Everyday engineering. Ethnography of design and innovation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Werskey, Gary. The Marxist Critique of Capitalist Science: A History in Three Movements?. The Human Nature Review. 2011-05-21. URL: Accessed: 2011-05-21. (Archived by WebCite® at
  • Williams, Robin and Edge, David The Social Shaping of Technology, Research Policy, Vol. 25, 1996, pp. 856–899 (html version).
  • Steven Lukes, Power: A Radical View (London: Macmillan, 1974)

External links[edit]

Student journals