Reflections on Readings

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Chapter 21 ~ “The Social Construction of Facts and Artifacts” by Trevor J. Pinch and Wiebe E. Bijker Pinch and Bijker contends that the study of science and the study of technology can benefit from each other, and one way to do this is through social constructivism. The paper falls into three main sections. He outlines various strands of augmentation and review bodies of literature which we consider to be relevant to our goals. Then discusses two specific approaches together. Third he brings the two approaches together and provides examples. First part outlines three bodies of literature in science and technology studies: sociology of science, the science-technology relationship, and technology studies. In regards to the sociology of science, they primarily look at the emergence of sociology of scientific knowledge and believe that this knowledge promises much for other areas of science studies. Looking at the science-technology relationship, they believe it is heterogeneous and includes contributions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Something that is on going through the article is that they note the attempt to spate technology and science but as the author notes and which I agree to is its not possible to separate the two. one point they made I found very interesting regarding technology studies section was that studies seemed to show a linear, progressive, successive growth with technological devices as opposed to showing the failures as well. This is very interesting because it makes people believe all advances are successful and there is no failures. Pinch and Bijker finish their essay but exploring the two methods they wish to employ: Empirical Programme of Relativism (EPOR) and Social Construction of Technology (SCOT). EPOR, which is particularly conducive to the study of scientific controversies, has three aims: 1) interpretive flexibility, 2) describing of social mechanisms that limit interpretative flexibility, and 3) relating “closure mechanisms” to the wider social-cultural milieu. SCOT, though not as established as EPOR, seems to break away from other traditions to examine the technological artifact in a non-linear way, thus becoming a multidirectional model. In the end, for Pinch and Bijker, I can see that social construction is an important computer to their vision of studying technology. Situations and people do influence “norms and values,” do help to construct meanings to things. Why would we think any differently about technology?

Alvin M. Weinberg’s “Can Technology Replace Social Engineering” Alvin Weinberg’s “Can Technology Replace Social Engineering” aims to explore the connection between technology and social engineering. The author starts his article by explaining the views of the technologist and the social engineer. This information is important as the rest of the article uses these contrasting views to evaluate the role of technology in solving social problems. By defining these views at the start, the author ensures that the reader will be able to follow the rest of the article. In the rest of the article, Weinberg provides both historical and hypothetical examples to develop his argument. However it was written in 1960’s and is out of date but I don’t think this really affects the effectiveness of the article because the author presents his ideas clearly and in enough detail so readers can understand his ideas even if the examples are out of date. In writing this article, one of the first things that Weinberg assumes is that technology can be applied to solve social problems in general. Weinberg’s assumption seems reasonable if we accept that society and technology influence and concluded that technology carry “traces of both the engineer and the larger society”.”. If we accept these ideas, then it’s reasonable to think that society may push technology towards solving a social problem, and that technology can be used to induce social changes. At the end of the article,...
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