Does Technology Drive History?: The Dilemma of Technological Determinism

Does Technology Drive History?: The Dilemma of Technological Determinism

Merritt R. Smith Merritt Roe Smith Merritt R. Smith / Jul 23, 2019

Does Technology Drive History The Dilemma of Technological Determinism These thirteen essays explore a crucial historical question that has been notoriously hard to pin down To what extent and by what means does a society s technology determine its political social e

  • Title: Does Technology Drive History?: The Dilemma of Technological Determinism
  • Author: Merritt R. Smith Merritt Roe Smith Merritt R. Smith
  • ISBN: 9780262691673
  • Page: 301
  • Format: Paperback
  • These thirteen essays explore a crucial historical question that has been notoriously hard to pin down To what extent, and by what means, does a society s technology determine its political, social, economic, and cultural forms Karl Marx launched the modern debate on determinism with his provocative remark that the hand mill gives you society with the feudal lord the sThese thirteen essays explore a crucial historical question that has been notoriously hard to pin down To what extent, and by what means, does a society s technology determine its political, social, economic, and cultural forms Karl Marx launched the modern debate on determinism with his provocative remark that the hand mill gives you society with the feudal lord the steam mill, society with the industrial capitalist, and a classic article by Robert Heilbroner reprinted here renewed the debate within the context of the history of technology This book clarifies the debate and carries it forward.Marx s position has become embedded in our culture, in the form of constant reminders as to how our fast changing technologies will alter our lives Yet historians who have looked closely at where technologies really come from generally support the proposition that technologies are not autonomous but are social products, susceptible to democratic controls The issue is crucial for democratic theory These essays tackle it head on, offering a deep look at all the shadings of determinism and assessing determinist models in a wide variety of historical contexts.Contributors Bruce Bimber Richard W Bulliet Robert L Heilbroner Thomas P Hughes Leo Marx Thomas J Misa Peter C Perdue Philip Scranton Merritt Roe Smith Michael L Smith John M Staudenmaier Rosalind Williams.

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    1. A. Intro1. Hard technological determinism is defined as the power of technology to act as an agent of change in society. Stories of hard determinism show technology as an independent artifact in before-after narratives. Such deterministic mini-fables include the compass and other navigational tools allowing Europe to discover America and the printing press as the cause of the Reformation. Another is that the invention of the cotton gin reinvigorated the use of slaves to harvest cotton. 2. Soft d [...]


    2. Basically, the title says it all. This book is a collection of essays that seek to explore the extent to which technology operates autonomously, as a driving force in a given social context. For the most part, each essay is short and to the point, though some are more accessible than others. The reader will most likely be drawn to one or another take on the subject. I was particularly intrigued by Thomas Hughes's idea of technological momentum. While my ability to clearly comprehend Hughes's wri [...]


    3. I read this book is fits and bursts during lunch during the work week usually. Each chapter is by a different author so it worked out rather well. All in all the idea of technological determinism is that technology drives history. The invention of the heavy plow changed society in Europe or the invention of the printing press required society to change. While technology adaptation within society does/can change society the overall opinion is that technology itself does not drive change. It is me [...]


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