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technological determinism


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The stance that new technologies are the primary cause of major social and historical changes at the macrosocial level of social structure and processes and/or subtle but profound social and psychological influences at the microsocial level of the regular use of particular kinds of tools. Whatever the specific technological ‘revolution’ may be, technological determinists (both optimistic and pessimistic) present it as a dramatic and inevitable driving force, the ‘impact’ of which will lead to deep and ‘far-reaching’ effects or consequences. Technology is presented as autonomous. Technological determinism is often associated with a belief in the neutrality of technology, but is sometimes linked with the notion of the non-neutrality of technology in the form of the stance that we cannot merely use technology without also, to some extent, being used by it. Very broad claims about the impact of technology are open to the criticism of reification. Where technological determinism focuses on communications media in particular it is sometimes referred to as media determinism. A moderate version of technological determinism is that our regular use of particular tools or media may have subtle influences on us, but that it is the social context of use which is crucial. The term was coined by Veblen. Compare linguistic determinism.

http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/tecdet/ Technological or media determinism

Subjects: Media studies


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