Sociology 430

Definitions of "Technology"

Random House College Dictionary (1979):

"1. the branch of knowledge that deals with industrial arts, applied science, engineering, etc.

2. the application of knowledge for practical ends, as in a particular field: educational technology

3. the terminology of an art, science, etc.; technical nomenclature.

4. a technological process, invention, method, or the like

5. the sum of the ways in which a social group provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization

[< Gk. technologia, systematic treatment...]"

Oxford Dictionary of Sociology, 2nd ed. (1998, p. 665)

"A term used rather loosely in sociology, to mean either machines, equipment, and possibly the productive technique associated with them; or a type of social relationship dictated by the technical organization and mechanization of work ..."

Andrew Feenberg, Critical Theory of Technology (1991, p. 14)

"Technology is not a thing in the ordinary sense of the term, but an "ambivalent" process of development suspended between different possibilities. This "ambivalence" of technology is distinguished from neutrality by the role it attributes to social values in the design, and not merely the use, of technical systems. On this view, technology is not a destiny but a scene of struggle. It is a social battlefield, or perhaps a better metaphor would be a parliament of things on which civilizational alternatives are debated and decided."

last updated August 21, 2002