History of Technology
Description of the Essay for History of Technology
Write an essay that addresses different ways that technology relates to society and explains
your views on the relationship between technology and society. In this paper you should
address the social construction of technology, technological determinism or techno-politics.
You should discuss and critique at least two of these three ways of thinking about technology.
Back up the points you make with specific historical examples from the readings and class
You will be making your own argument about how technological change happens by thinking
about the theories and historical examples we have discussed in class.
Style and Format
Typed, double spaced
12 pt Times New Roman font or equivalent
1 inch margins
Your paper must have a title (the wittier the better)
Name and class time at the top of page 1 or on the title page
Use either footnotes or parenthetical citations to cite your sources (see syllabus for examples)
What is an Essay?
An essay is an argumentative paper that expresses the author’s point of view on a specific topic. Essays
are usually both analytical as the author is judging or critiquing something, and also descriptive as the
author needs to use facts to prove the accuracy of their opinion.
Introduction – A good introduction will contain (1) a catch, (2) a thesis statement, and (3) will give an
indication of how the rest of the paper will be structured.
Body – This is the portion of the paper where the author makes their argument. Here the author
presents information that proves the thesis of the paper. The paragraphs in the body should flow into
each other. As much as possible, sentences should be active voice with strong subjects and action
Conclusion – The conclusion of an essay should explain how the author proved their point. In this way
the conclusion is not simply a restatement of the thesis, but a blending of the thesis and the body. Tell
the reader how the details you discussed in the body proved the thesis in your introduction.
Theories of Technological Change
Technological Determinism –
A. Technology determines the lives of people
B. Technology develops along a specific path – need transistors before we can create a PC, Engine before
car. This is a linear progression.
Social Construction of technology – Society constructs technology – People’s collective values decide
how technology is shaped, whether is succeeds and how it is used. The consumers or the users are the
most important group.
Often technologies that are not as technically superior succeed because of society’s priorities.
Technopolitics – Technology is directly part of all sociopolitical systems. There is no division between
technology and society. The design of technology constitutes political or social arrangements and is not
independent of society or political systems. Technology is a conscious “strategic practice of designing or
using technology to constitute, embody, or enact political goals” (Hecht 1998: 15