Social Shaping Theory as a Derivative of Technological Determinism

Scientific Essay, 2010

4 Pages, Grade: A


Social Shaping Theory as a Derivative of Technological Determinism


Arghya Ray


Technological determinism or TD can be described as a reductionist framework that can be used to explore the interrelations between humans and scientific technologies. However, several scholars like Dosi (1982) preferred to develop a broader perspective on technological determinism on the basis of more intricate analysis of technology change and innovation management. According to the scholars like Mackenzie and Wajcman (1999), a major drawback of technological determinism is its rigidity which is resulted by the deterministic nature of this theory. Such an approach, as advocated by its early proponents like Thorstein Veblen, restricts is suppleness to explain the complex attributes of different social processes especially in relationship with innovation management (Tilman 2004).

Essay question

Discuss social shaping theory as an offshoot of technological determinism.

What is social shaping theory?

In order to understand the social shaping theory, a researcher must explore the works of Mackenzie and Wajcman (1985). The authors, in fact, pioneered the concept of social shaping as put in an organised way in their research on the basis of historical analysis. Earlier, scholars like Dosi (1982) had tried to draw attention of the academic world towards influence of society on technology. Dosi (1982) marked technological developments of almost all categories as consequences of an intricate interplay between different economical and institutional factors in the human society as a whole. Although this practically turns technological determinism almost upside down, inclusion of institutional factors remains quite practical and necessary in the context of giant corporations and capitalist democracies. As put forward by the experts like Williamson (1975) and Mackenzie and Wajcman (1985), corporations approach plays an important role to investigate the function of the different corporate institutions behind financing the various support mechanisms for technological research.


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Social Shaping Theory as a Derivative of Technological Determinism
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social, shaping, theory, derivative, technological, determinism
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Arghya Ray (Author), 2010, Social Shaping Theory as a Derivative of Technological Determinism, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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