Langdon Winner's Theory Of Technological Determinism?

1104 Words5 Pages
Technology is crucial in influencing society, therefore it is imperative to understand what influences technological development and how it changes society, such as social shaping and theories of technological determinism. Langdon Winner supports the social determination of technology through the findings of others and his theories of politically influenced technologies, thus Winner accounts for technological determinism through defining the theory in this context.
“The social determination of technology is the social circumstances of technological development, deployment and use” (Winner, 1986, p.21). When discussing politics, Winner refers to authorities in society and how people behave under that power (Winner, 1986, p.22). Winner states two ways in which artefacts have politics; first, when the invention, design or arrangement of a technology becomes a way of resolving an issue in a particular society, and when there are ‘inherently political technologies’, that is, artificial systems requiring specific types of political relationships (Winner, 1986, p. 22). Winner formed his theory on political artefacts as a means of understanding which technologies and contexts are significant and why, and that it “is an enterprise that must involve both the study of specific technical systems and their history as well as a thorough grasp of the concepts and controversies of political theory” (Winner,1986, p.39). These theories were formed through the influence of the ideas of others including Lewis Mumford, William Morris, Dennis Hayes and Karl Marx, who all discussed the influence of particular technologies upon society (Winner, 1986, pp.19-20).
The case of architect Robert Moses is an example that Winner discussed when explaining polit...

... middle of paper ...

...e in which larger companies joined together in order to be able to introduce a new technology into society after the failure of the gas refrigerator, this case highlights the difficulty of introducing a new technology to society, something that still exists in contemporary societies (Schwartz Cowan, 1985, p.212). “If for no other reason, it is important for us to achieve a clearer view of these matters then has been our habit so far” (Winner, 1986, p.39).
In conclusion, Winners theory about political artefacts compliments the social determination of technology through his arguments and insights into the cases of both Robert Moses and the tomato harvester indicating that there are many social and political circumstances that are simultaneously involved in new technologies. Through the analysis of these cases Winner accounts for and defines technological determinism.

More about Langdon Winner's Theory Of Technological Determinism?

Open Document