[Air-L] Seeking a short introduction text on technological determinism vs. SCOT

Tarleton L. Gillespie tlg28 at cornell.edu
Mon Feb 19 08:05:10 PST 2018

I was particularly impressed by Leah Lievrouw's chapter in a collection I co-edited, which was intended to bring together some of the theoretical tools about technology and society drawn both from STS and from pockets of Communication. It gestures to and digests a lot of the classic takes that have been mentioned in this thread. I think it teaches very well.

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Lievrouw, Leah. 2014. “Materiality and Media in Communication and Technology Studies: An Unfinished Project.” In Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society, edited by Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo Boczkowski, and Kirsten Foot, 21–51. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 

Abstract: A newly materialist approach to the study of media technologies is emerging in several fields, including cultural studies, digital humanities, and science and technology studies (STS). Yet most technology scholarship in the communication field, informed by classical media research, still follows a broadly constructivist line focused on the meanings, appropriations, representations and semiology of communication technology and its uses. This chapter explores the conceptualization of communication and media technologies at the intersection of STS and communication studies, surveying and comparing key concepts or schools of thought in each field. A framework for mediation is proposed as a way to theorize material artifacts, communication practices, and social arrangements or structures as mutually-constitutive elements of communication and media technology.

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On 2/19/18, 10:53 AM, "Air-L on behalf of Brice L Nixon" <air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org on behalf of bln222 at nyu.edu> wrote:

    I have had success using the first two sections (p. 1-7) of the chapter
    "The Technology and the Society" from Raymond Williams' *Television:
    Technology and Cultural Form* as a short introduction to those two basic
    Williams uses television to illustrate the different views of the
    relationship between technology and society (the book is from 1974). In
    addition to explaining the debate between the views of  technological
    determinism and what he calls symptomatic technology, Williams also argues
    that this debate is a dead end because each view abstracts technology from
    society. The rest of the book is meant to offer an alternative approach —
    and one that I think remains an important alternative to consider in
    relation to the more recent theoretical approaches to technology and
    Brice Nixon, PhD
    Visiting Scholar, Annenberg School for Communication, University of
    Adjunct Instructor, Department of Media Studies and Production, Temple
    On Sun, Feb 18, 2018 at 10:02 AM, Carmel Vaisman <carmelv at gmail.com> wrote:
    > Dear fellows,
    > I have been struggling with the task of finding a simple short text for
    > undergraduates that introduces the approaches of technological determinism
    > (including utopia and dystopia) versus social construction of technology.
    > Since the theoretical terrain has since been enriched with actor network
    > theories and post phenomenology and so forth, it has become very hard to
    > find a text that doesn't complicate this basic framework which fits a
    > sophomore introductory level course. Any ideas?
    > Thanks in advance,
    > Carmel Vaisman, PhD.
    > The Multidisciplinary Program in the Humanities
    > The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas
    > Tel Aviv University
    > http://www.absolutecarmel.com
    > Twitter: @carmelva
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