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Simone Tosoni and Trevor Pinch

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035279

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035279.001.0001

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Social Construction of Technology

Social Construction of Technology

(p.73) 3 Social Construction of Technology

Simone Tosoni

Trevor Pinch

The MIT Press

The chapter focuses on the Social Construction of Technology approach (SCOT) by Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker, introducing the reader to its initial formulation (1984), and to the subsequent extensions – and sometimes reformulations – elaborated in more than 30 year of empirical research. It first clarifies how the Empirical Programme of Relativism, elaborated by the Bath School to address the social construction of scientific facts, was adapted to technological artifacts. In particular the concepts of relevant social groups, interpretative flexibility, closure or stabilization are in-depth discussed. Regarding relevant social groups, the chapter dedicates a peculiar attention to users, sellers and testers, all understudied in the original formulation of SCOT. The chapter then clarifies SCOT’s take on materiality, and discusses its main differences with the idea of nonhuman agency proposed by Actor-Network Theory (ANT). Finally, it goes back to the Golem Trilogy to discuss with the author the specific take on politics implied by SCOT.

Keywords:   Social Construction of Technology, relevant social groups, interpretative flexibility, stabilization, users, sellers, testers, materiality, nonhuman agency, politics

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