These 13 essays explore to what extent, and by what means, a society's technology determines its political, social, economic and cultural forms. Karl Marx launched the modern debate on determinism and this book clarifies the debate and carries it forward.
The technical problems confronting different societies and periods and the measures taken to solve them form the concern of this annual collection of essays. It deals with the history of technical discovery and change and explores the relationship of technology to other aspects of life - social, cultural and economic - showing how technological development has shaped, and been shaped by, the society in which it occurred.
Actor-Network Theory and Technology Innovation: Advancements and New Concepts provides a comprehensive look at the development of actor-network theory itself, as well as case studies of its use to assist in the explanation of various socio-technical phenomena. This book includes topics relating to technological innovation; both those using actor-network theory as an explanatory framework and those using other approaches. It is an excellent source of information regarding ANT as an approach to technological innovation and its link to ICT (Information Communication Technology).
This volume is based around 14 chapters and two critical analyses which provide new perspectives on important organizational constructs. The first half of the book provides chapters by advanced graduate students who are making their first contributions to understanding organizational behavior. The second half of the book provides chapters illustrating new views of organizational constructs but from the perspectives of more established researchers in the field. All chapters share a common theme of attempting to provide new ways of viewing organizations and organizational behavior. Each chapter is based on the premise that, when presented with problems that seem impossible to solve, often the best results are achieved by finding new perspectives on the basic constructs being studied. These new perspectives provide insights which illuminate the problems for the theory of organizations as well as improving the ability of organizational members to solve practical organizational problems.
We have long recognized technology as a driving force behind much historical and cultural change. The invention of the printing press initiated the Reformation. The development of the compass ushered in the Age of Exploration and the discovery of the New World. The cotton gin created the conditions that led to the Civil War. Now, in Beyond Engineering, science writer Robert Pool turns the question around to examine how society shapes technology. Drawing on such disparate fields as history, economics, risk analysis, management science, sociology, and psychology, Pool illuminates the complex, often fascinating interplay between machines and society, in a book that will revolutionize how we think about technology. We tend to think that reason guides technological development, that engineering expertise alone determines the final form an invention takes. But if you look closely enough at the history of any invention, says Pool, you will find that factors unrelated to engineering seem to have an almost equal impact. In his wide-ranging volume, he traces developments in nuclear energy, automobiles, light bulbs, commercial electricity, and personal computers, to reveal that the ultimate shape of a technology often has as much to do with outside and unforeseen forces. For instance, Pool explores the reasons why steam-powered cars lost out to internal combustion engines. He shows that the Stanley Steamer was in many ways superior to the Model T--it set a land speed record in 1906 of more than 127 miles per hour, it had no transmission (and no transmission headaches), and it was simpler (one Stanley engine had only twenty-two moving parts) and quieter than a gas engine--but the steamers were killed off by factors that had little or nothing to do with their engineering merits, including the Stanley twins' lack of business acumen and an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease. Pool illuminates other aspects of technology as well. He traces how seemingly minor decisions made early along the path of development can have profound consequences further down the road, and perhaps most important, he argues that with the increasing complexity of our technological advances--from nuclear reactors to genetic engineering--the number of things that can go wrong multiplies, making it increasingly difficult to engineer risk out of the equation. Citing such catastrophes as Bhopal, Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez, the Challenger, and Chernobyl, he argues that is it time to rethink our approach to technology. The days are gone when machines were solely a product of larger-than-life inventors and hard-working engineers. Increasingly, technology will be a joint effort, with its design shaped not only by engineers and executives but also psychologists, political scientists, management theorists, risk specialists, regulators and courts, and the general public. Whether discussing bovine growth hormone, molten-salt reactors, or baboon-to-human transplants, Beyond Engineering is an engaging look at modern technology and an illuminating account of how technology and the modern world shape each other.
In the late 1960s an eclectic group of engineers joined the antiwar and civil rights activists of the time in agitating for change. The engineers were fighting to remake their profession, challenging their fellow engineers to embrace a more humane vision of technology. In Engineers for Change, Matthew Wisnioski offers an account of this conflict within engineering, linking it to deep-seated assumptions about technology and American life. The postwar period in America saw a near-utopian belief in technology's beneficence. Beginning in the mid-1960s, however, society--influenced by the antitechnology writings of such thinkers as Jacques Ellul and Lewis Mumford--began to view technology in a more negative light. Engineers themselves were seen as conformist organization men propping up the military-industrial complex. A dissident minority of engineers offered critiques of their profession that appropriated concepts from technology's critics. These dissidents were criticized in turn by conservatives who regarded them as countercultural Luddites. And yet, as Wisnioski shows, the radical minority spurred the professional elite to promote a new understanding of technology as a rapidly accelerating force that our institutions are ill-equipped to handle. The negative consequences of technology spring from its very nature--and not from engineering's failures. "Sociotechnologists" were recruited to help society adjust to its technology. Wisnioski argues that in responding to the challenges posed by critics within their profession, engineers in the 1960s helped shape our dominant contemporary understanding of technological change as the driver of history.
The field of environmental history emerged just decades ago but has established itself as one of the most innovative and important new approaches to history, one that bridges the human and natural world, the humanities and the sciences. With the current trend towards internationalizing history, environmental history is perhaps the quintessential approach to studying subjects outside the nation-state model, with pollution, global warming, and other issues affecting the earth not stopping at national borders. With 25 essays, this Handbook is global in scope and innovative in organization, looking at the field thematically through such categories as climate, disease, oceans, the body, energy, consumerism, and international relations.