1. An Analysis of ReadingsWeek 5 Social Construction of
2. The Authors: Trevor Pinch & Wiebe Bijker
Trevor Pinchis a former chair of the Science and Technology
Studies department at Cornell University at which he is currently a
professor of science and technology studies, as well as a professor
He completed a degree in Physics at the Imperial College London
and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Bath.
Other texts contributed to include- How Users Matter: The
Co-Construction of Users and Technology and Perspectives on
Science: Historical, Philosophical, Social.
Wiebe Bijkeris a professor of Technology and Society at the
University of Maastricht. He was also President of the Society for
Social Studies of Science, director and chairman of the board of
the Netherlands Research School on Science, Technology and Modern
He helped to establish, and was the first scientific
coordinator of the European masters degree program on Society,
Science and Technology now offered by 18 universities.
He received a BSc degree in Philosophy from the University of
Groningen, an engineers degree in applied physics from the
Technical University of Delft and completed his PhD in the
sociology and history of technology at the University of
The two authors met at European Association for the Study of
Science and Technology.
Proposed an integration between the sociology of scientific
knowledge and the study of technology
The results of this early work were demonstrated in Paris,
Workshop was then organised, for a max of 30 academics from
historical, sociological and philosophical backgrounds, at the
Tewente University of Technology.
Contributions included the development of a systems approach by
Thomas Hughes a technological historian and the actor network
theory throughMichel Callon, Bruno Latour and John Law.
This workshop led to the book of which the first reading is an
4. The Social Construction of Fact and Artifacts
Attempts to integrate the Empirical Programme of Relativism
(EPOR)with Social Construction of Technology through three stages:
- interpretative flexibility - closure mechanisms through
consensus, redefinition oftheproblem, stabilisation- connection
between closure mechanisms and society
5. The Authors: Langdon Winner
Langdon Winners education at the University of California (1966
1973) was largely focused on Political Science.
Winner has been a Professor of Political Science in the
Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute, New York, since 1990.
He is a member of several organisations including, Society for
the History of Technology, Society for Social Studies of Science,
Society for Philosophy and Technology.
Winner is known for his articles and books on science,
technology, and society. He also spent several years as a reporter
and contributing editor forRolling Stonemagazine.
He also contributed to the 1969 hoax LPThe Masked Marauders, s
upplying piano and backing vocals on the fictional supergroups
Focuses on the intersection between politics and technology,
and its resulting potential.
6. Upon the black box
Inability to recognise the importance of social consequences of
How can one decide who the relevant social groups/social
Disregards deeper, underlying causes for technological change
cultural, intellectual or economic
SCOT is simply descriptive, makes no moral or political
standpoints, or guidelines to shape future change
7. Criticisms of SCOT
Criticised for the way in which they used the bicycle as their
case study (Nick Clatyon, 2002)
Criticised for its over simplification when applied (Paul
Political concerns from both Winner and Stewart Russel
Has been argued that the analysis of SCOT is too structured and
too heavily focused on the design stage of technological
development (Winner, Clayton)
8. SCOT Case Study: E-Learning
Who are the relevant socialgroups?
9. SCOT Case Study: E-Learning (2)
Relevant Social Groups:
- Students - Teaching staff - IT Professionals - Mid-Level
Administrators - Educational Planners - Educational Publishers
10. SCOT Case Study: E-Learning (3)
Course Management Software (Stabilized)
Technological Stabilisation: Yes
Role of Relevant Social Groups:
IT professionals : minimal
Educational planners : none
Mid-level administrators:cost savings, cost transfer to central
Faculty:no discernable change to teaching style, compatible
withexisting software tools, less clerical work such as automated
grading Students:better access to course materials, one point of
contact,reinforce established teaching methods.
11. SCOT Case Study: E-Learning (4)
Distance Learning (Failure)
In previous years distance e-learning looked to become an
integral feature of the educational institution
Role of Relevant Social Groups: IT Professionals : important to
finetuning the technical aspects,though not to the actual decision
to take on the technology Educational Planners : needed to consider
the way in which it wouldrestructure education, as well as cut
costs through standardisedteaching modules Mid-Level
Administrators:similar to educational planners Faculty:conflicted
between possibility of either increased workloador deskilling of
educational profession Students:benefits of increased access, but
concerns as to quality ofmaterial and the degree to which
credentials would be recognised
12. Technological Determinism Case Study: E-Learning
What is Technological Determinism?
Rogers Dissemination of Innovation Model
However, things are clearly not this black and white -Classroom
is still the dominate medium - Web technology has been modified -
Has reinforcing features, rather than revolutionary effects
13. Key questions
What value would Winners criticisms add to SCOT if they were to
be adapted? Are they valid criticisms? Can we use it to create
guidelines for future technological development?
Can SCOT explain unexpected failures or successes in
Both SCOT and alternatives such as Technological Determnism
tend to be rather blackand white perspectives. Can one learn from