Lenski's Technological Determinism.
Hunting and Gathering Societies (1:3) (calories of energy expended:calories of food energy produced)
Horticultural Societies (1:15)
Agricultural Societies (1:50) Power==> Land
Industrial Societies (1:5000) Power==> Money
Post-Industrial/Post-Modern Societies (?) Power==> Information
Explaining/understanding the shift from agricultural to industrial systems
- Division of Labor.
- Come to identify people by what
they do versus who they are, i.e. their social position vs. distinctive human
- A shift in the "Social Bond"
of Postmodernist Thought
life expressions of these themes:
- Modernity (see also: A
MODERN SOCIETY?) (and) has failed to provide the
solution to the problems of life.
is not an onward and upward march
- Science (positivism)
does not have all the answers
integrative, yet focus is upon control mechanisms
- Cultural debates
are intensifying. The promise of the modernist "Individual" and
tolerance needs critical reflection
- Social Institutions
are changing at a rapid rate: Family, Religion, Education, etc.
- Hi-Tech lifestyles
Side of the Internet. Pew Internet & American Life Project.
January 18, 2011)
- Preoccupied with consumer
goods and media images
- The Mass
- International, "demise
of the nation-state"
- The impact of continual
change (or this, local)
- McDonaldization (Organizational
Not necessarily so, but certainly taking on such characteristics
- Technology develops
forward (and outward) expansion
- Problem: humans
have abdicated responsibility
- Western values-
we favor technological innovation
innovation has been institutionalized
What makes technology seem
Rise of Capitalism and its internal demand- technological innovation has become
seen as an "impersonal force"
forces of survival, competition, and "thrival"
- System embeddedness==>
Autonomous Technology==> Lack of conscious control
- Individual development
are, perhaps, controlled; but Technological Evolution (innovation as
a whole) is not.
Drift: much of modern change is an accumulation of unintended and unanticipated
consequences. We don't try to control this, but merely adapt.
- System embeddedness
constrains and conditions our cultural system: It is confronted as THE WORLD
by those born into it. Result: The Loss of HUMAN AGENCY
- Winner on "Do
Technologies have Politics"
- Winner on "Techne
and Politeia: The Technical Constitution of Society"
- Technique ("the
ensemble of practices by which one uses available resources in order to achieve
certain valued ends") is the milieu in which humans exist- it has replaced
- It is artificial
- It is Autonomous
- It is self-determining
- It is characterized
by growth, but is not goal directed
- Means have come
to have precedence over ends
- Its parts are
intrinsically interrelated an inseparable
of individual techniques is an "ambivalent" phenomenon
- All social phenomena
are situated within Technique
- It comprises
organizational and psycho sociological techniques, so they can not determine
or control it. Humans must (are being forced to) adapt to it(!)
- Modern human
values, choice, and ideas are dominated by Technique. Our choices are already
incorporated within the technological process.
- We make too
much of the problems of technology. It contains the solution. We benefit more
from it than we would without it
- Morals are not
being eroded. A new morality and ethical system are emerging.
- Aesthetics is
not dead: new forms of expression are being created
- Human reality,
values and powers are not being eliminated
Can humans (and which ones)
remain the masters in a world of means: Who decides?
Can a new civilization
appear inclusive of technique?
- People (seem)
to exploit technology- yet technology is autonomous
- The human actor
is more and more the object of techniques
- Is the end point
of technical development the betterment of the human condition?
- Do we just passively
participate in technological progress- is "appropriate technology" possible?
- For humans to
remain "subject," we must center upon and accept common values and
behavior towards Technique
- We live in a
technical world of material objects: Technique's interest in "man" is as an
- Technical growth=>
growth in power- limitless and perhaps, uncontrollable. As power expands,
Value declines. "When man is able to accomplish anything at all, there is
no value that can be proposed to him"
- Technique can
not produce Freedom (animal vs. Human needs)
- "New limits
and technical oppression have taken the place of older, natural constraints..."
- And, we can't
The Problem Will Solve
The Problem Demands a Modification
of the Whole of Humanity
- Economic models:
Material development provides a basis for human expansion.
- Einstein: A
"superstate" led by philosopher-scientists
- Others: A re-invention
de Chardin- "Spirit has contrived Technique as a means of organizing dispersed
matter.." An end stage to the process of evolution- unification. "Conscious
Ellul rejects all of these!
- He focuses on the need
for the institutionalization of firmer forms of social and moral control
- Perhaps a better answer
is found through the work of Langdon Winner, as expressed in Larry Hickman's
"Autonomous Technology in Fiction": Rather than "Technique" in Ellul's sense.
We need to distinguish
If these are related,
yet distinctive elements, then the problems they propose require different
responses from the human actor.
- Technique as technology's
"software"- skills, methods and routines
- Technology's "apparatus"-
technics, the "hardware"
- Technology's "Organization"-
The Rationalization of Human Affairs
Value of the Position of Technological Determinism?
- Technology determines
- Marx: "In acquiring
new productive forces men change their mode of production, and in changing
their mode of production they change their way of living-they change all
their social relations. The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal
lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist." (See note
STS page 94)
- Perhaps technological
change determines the range of options, but social reality determines which
options are actualized: cultural beliefs, values. Nuclear power or Solar,
Assembly line or Quality Circles.
changes are the most important source of change: Catalyst, necessarily but
significance of religious and political ideology and significant change
Century as distinctive
See also, Technological
or Media Determinism, by David Chandler. University of Wales-Aberystwyth
to Technological Determinism: Agency, Myth, and Dereification.
Understanding of Technology
as a Social Phenomenon: The
Social Construction of Technology
Owner: Robert O. Keel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 14:46