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Social Construction of Technology

Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) [Pinch and Bijker, 1986] recognises that the form that technology takes is heavily influenced by its social context, and are even the products of inter-group negotiations. It is particularly useful in understanding information technology and such things as public networks. This page briefly compares and contrasts that view with Dooyeweerd's thought.

SCOT Theme Meaning Dooyeweerd
Interpretive flexibility This suggests that technology design is an open process. Depending on the social context and circumstances during development, different designs can emerge. - While Dooyeweerd held that there are 'individuality structures', laws about what types of entity (including technology) are possible, ...
+ he held clearly that these cannot be known in advance and that these laws are exceedingly 'plastic'. "these structural principles are strongly plastic in character because of their more concrete nature. This lends an extremely rich and varied aspect to this dimension of the experiential horizon" [NC II:557]
+ So this upholds the notion of open process.
+ Since every aspect is involved, this process is inherently social.
Relevant Social Groups Multiple groups involved in technological devleopment, which interpret the artifact differently and negotiate over its design. "All members of a certain social group share the same set of meanings, attached to a specific artifact" [Pinch and Bijker, 1986:30] + Diversity of meaning is found in the irreducible aspects.
+ Perspectives are often centred on specific aspects (e.g. economic, social, lingual, juridical)
+ Negotiation is a lingual process.
- But SCOT seems more rigid than Dooyeweerd's notion since to Dooyeweerd, every aspect is involved for every group.
Closure and Stabilization Multiple groups: conflicts. Eventually these are resolved. After this, no further major design modification is called for. + Conflict of this kind, based on different interpretation and meaningfulness, may be understood by reference to aspects on which perspectives centre.
Technological Frame Like a paradigm. Like a world view, in defining "What's the problem?", "What's the solution?" [see Walsh and Middlteon, 1984] that helps structure and constrain what happens in the RSGs. + A world view is usually centred on an aspect.
+ Such aspects are foci of meaning, and involve constraints and enablers.


Pinch, T. & Bijker, W.(1986). Science, Relativism and the new sociology of technology: reply to Russell. In Social Studies of Science, vol. 16, London, Sage.
This page is part of a collection of pages that links to various thinkers, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.

Copyright (c) 2004 Andrew Basden. But you may use this material subject to conditions.

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Created: 11 March 2005 Last updated: