Technological Determinism Analysis

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Since the advent of stone tools 2.5 million years ago, technology has played a crucial role in the way humans interact with one another and with the world around them. In the modern academic landscape, many historians and philosophers have attempted to explain the significance technology has played throughout the course of history. This has led to the emergence of several differing theories; all of these competing ideas agree that technology has been an integral factor in shaping the current landscape, but there are many conflicting viewpoints concerning the degree to which technology directly impacted society. Most recent thinkers argue that technology was but one variable in a mix of social, economic and political motives that shaped the…show more content…
Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) argued that the social and cultural values of a society are determined by its technology ( Determinism still has its proponents today, long after its initial inception. Phillip Scranton puts forth a localized theory of determinism in his work Determinism and Indeterminacy in the History of Technology (1995), arguing that if an idea or artefact can gain enough technological momentum then it should be "sufficiently powerful to overcome the constraints offered by other factors in the situational context" (1995, p. S36). If there are specific locations or time periods where technological determinism can reign supreme then what is stopping it from influencing society on a larger scale? Scranton stresses bureaucracy as the main limiting factor especially concerning governments and large corporations. He addresses a startling case of local determinism in the same journal article about how Cincinnati became "the nation 's most respected machine-tool district well before the First World War" (1995, S39). While other surrounding cities offered comparable environments with well-established industry, workers in Cincinnati turned their attention to machine-tool manufactories with networks between veterans and novices and a marketing scheme that involved many firms filling separate parts of a single, large order. This locally determined momentum can be attributed as much to engineering refinements as it is to the social interactions occurring throughout the community, according to Scranton. Even in this local, technology-driven change to the society, social aspects are front and center beside
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