1. Bibliographic Entry. Does tech drive history?
2. Author: Marx and Smith
3. Scope & Context: Technical Determinism
4. Evidence/credibility: Series of essays
5. Central Proposition/Thesis: There are two kinds of determinism – Hard and soft.
Hard states that technology drives all societal change and this change is inescapable.
Soft states that technology plays a critical role in a system of factors that affect change, including politics, culture, economy, etc.
a. PTP: Trouble with hard Tech –deter, and to some extent soft tech-deter, is that it doesn’t account for who sets all this innovation in motion? Who establishes the demand for the initial innovation to begin with, and further demands improvements. Especially in a market system where an industry is likely not going to pursue R & D without some semblance of a need for the product. (58)
b. Another name for soft determinism is ‘normative’ which puts the emphasis on the technical innovation, but says that it’s society that ultimately choses to accept it. (82)
c. Another name for hard determinism is ‘nomological’ determinism which believes that technology drives society. Introducing a certain technology will assure a certain path follows regardless of the acceptance of willingness of society. (83)
Xi Unlike other, more abstract forces to which historians often assign determinative power the thingness or tangibility of mechanical devices-their accessibility via sense perception-helps to create a sense of causal efficacy made visible. Taken together, these before-and-after narrattves gIve credence to the idea of "technology" as an independent rives give credence to the idea of "technology" as an agent of change
xii the idea of technological determinism takes several forms, which can be described as occupying places along a spectrum between "hard" and "soft" extremes. At the "hard" end of the spectrum, agency (the power to effect change) is imputed to technology itself, or to some of its intrinsic attributes; thus the advance of technology leads to a situation of inescapable necessity.
Xiii At the other end of the spectrum, the "soft" determinists begin by reminding us that the history of technology is a history of human actions. To understand the origin of a particular kind of technological power, we must first learn about the actors. Who were they? What were their circumstances? This approach leads willy-nilly to the more ex.acting and productive questions in the historian's tool kit. Why was the innovation made by these people and not others? Why was itpossible at this time and this place rather than another time or place? 11. Instead of treating "technology" per se as the locus of historical agency, the soft determinists locate it in a far more various and complex social, economic, political, and cultural matrix.
2 'technological determinism" by twentieth-century scholars, this belief affirms that changes in technology exert a greater influence on societies and their processes than any other factor. a "soft view," which holds that technological change drives social change but at the same time responds discriminatingly to social pressures, and a "hard view," which perceives technological development as an autonomous force, completely independent of social constraints.
26 The critics worried that Americans, in their headlong rush to mechanize and rationalize production, were sacrificing moral progress for material power, thus abandoning a concern that was central to thinkers of Jefferson's generation. With rapid industrial growth, critics feared, the country was drifting away from its revolutionary republican moorings toward a more secular and materialistic frame of lelief.
28 Compared with the highly personal, moral, and nostalgic tone of nineteenth-century commentators, twentieth-century writers seem ached and impersonal (hut no less committed) in their criticisms of the technocratic perspective. Matters of faith and tradition mean less to them than questions of politics and power. Three indiduals merit special attention here because their work has become
34 technocratic thought as a culturally embedded attitude. I uncriticaHy equates technological changewith progress.
38 "Technological determinism" is a curious phrase. The gist of it is heartbreaking in its simplicity: the belief that social progress is driven by technological innovation, which in turn follows an "inevitable" course.
54 That machines make history in some sense-that the level of technology has a direct bearing on the human drama-is of course obvious. That they do not make all of history, however that word be defined, is equally clear. The challenge, then, is to see if one can say something systematic about the matter, to see whether one can order the problem so that it becomes intellectually manageable.
55 that the steam-mill follows the hand-mill not by chance but because it is the next "stage" in a technical conquest of nature that follows one and only one grand avenue of advance. To put it differently, I believe that it is impossible to proceed to the age of the steam-mill until one has passed through the age of the hand-mill, and that in tUTn one cannot move to the age of the hydroelectric plant before one has mastered the steammill, nor to the nuclear power age until one has lived through that of electricity.
56 Admittedly, the concept of "simultaneity" is impressionistic,2 but the related phenomenon of technological "clustering" again suggests that technical evolution follows a sequential and determinate rather than random course.
AU inventions and innovations, by definition, represent an advance of the art beyond existing base lines. Yet, most advances, particularly in retrospect, appear essentially incremental, evolutionary.
57 What is interesting is that the development of technical progress has always seemed intrinsically predictable.
This necessary requirement of technological congruence6 gives us an additional cause of sequencing. For the ability of many industries to cooperate in producing the equipment needed for a "higher" stage of technology depends not alone on knowledge or sheer skill but on the division of labor and the specialization of industry. And this in turn hinges to a considerable degree on he sheer size of the stock of capital itself. Thus the slow and painful accumulation of capital, from which springs the gradual diversification of industrial function, becomes an independent regulator of the reach of technical capability.
59 , 1 do not think it is just by happenstance that the steam-mill follows, and does not precede, the hand-mill, nor is it mere fantasy in our own day when we speak of the coming of the automatic factory.
\ certain mode of production, or industrial stage, is always combined with a certain mode of cooperation, or social stage,"7 or that, as he put it in the sentence immediately preceding our hand-mill-steam-mill paradigm. "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"?
62 A theory of technological determinism must contend with the fact that the very activity of invention and innovation is an attribute of some societies and not of others.
Whether technology advances in the area of war, the arts, agriculture, or industry depends in part on the rewards, inducements, and incentives offered by society. In this way the direction of technological advance is partially the result of social policy.
63 An advance in technology not only must be congruent with the surrounding technology but must also be compatible with the existing economic and other institutions of society. For example, labor-saving machinery will not find ready acceptance in a society where labor is abundant and cheap as a factor of production.
101 the concept of technological momentum" somewhere between the poles of technological determinism and social constructivism."
younger developing systems tend to be more open to sociocultural influences while older, more mature systems prove to be more independent of outside influences and therefore more deterministic in nature.
technological momentum is an integrative concept that gives equal weight to social and technical forces.
107 Neither the proponents of technical determinism nor those of social construction can alone comprehend the complexity of an evolving technological system such as EBASCO. On some occasions EBASCO was a cause; on others it was an effect. The system both shaped and was shaped by society.
112 A technological system can be both a cause and an effect; it can shape or be shaped by society. As they grow larger and more complex, systems tend to be more shaping of society and less shaped by it.