Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism

ISBN-10: 0262691671
ISBN-13: 9780262691673
Edition: 1994
List price: $37.00 Buy it from $4.84
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Description: These thirteen essays explore a crucial historical question that has been notoriously hard to pin down: To what extent, and by what means, does a society's technology determine its political, social, economic, and cultural forms? Karl Marx launched  More...

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Book details

List price: $37.00
Copyright year: 1994
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 6/2/1994
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 298
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.034
Language: English

These thirteen essays explore a crucial historical question that has been notoriously hard to pin down: To what extent, and by what means, does a society's technology determine its political, social, economic, and cultural forms? Karl Marx launched the modern debate on determinism with his provocative remark that "the hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist," and a classic article by Robert Heilbroner (reprinted here) renewed the debate within the context of the history of technology. This book clarifies the debate and carries it forward. Marx's position has become embedded in our culture, in the form of constant reminders as to how our fast-changing technologies will alter our lives. Yet historians who have looked closely at where technologies really come from generally support the proposition that technologies are not autonomous but are social products, susceptible to democratic controls. The issue is crucial for democratic theory. These essays tackle it head-on, offering a deep look at all the shadings of determinism and assessing determinist models in a wide variety of historical contexts. Contributors: Bruce Bimber. Richard W. Bulliet. Robert L. Heilbroner. Thomas P. Hughes. Leo Marx. Thomas J. Misa. Peter C. Perdue. Philip Scranton. Merritt Roe Smith. Michael L. Smith. John M. Staudenmaier. Rosalind Williams.

Merritt Roe Smith is Leverett Howell and William King Cutten Professor of the History of Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Scholar, writer and educator Leo Marx was educated at Harvard University, where he received a B. A. and a Ph. D. Marx taught at the University of Minnesota, Amherst College, and MIT. The school has also created the Leo Marx Career Development Professorship in the History and Culture of Science and Technology to honor his service. Marx's works, such as "The Machine in the Garden," explore the relationship between technology and culture in the past two centuries.

Introduction
Technological Determinism in American Culture
Recourse of Empire: Landscapes of Progress in Technological America
Do Machines Make History?
Technological Determinism Revisited
Three Faces of Technological Determinism
Technological Momentum
Retrieving Sociotechnical Change from Technological Determinism
Determinism and Indeterminacy in the History of Technology
Technological Determinism in Agrarian Societies
Determinism and Pre-Industrial Technology
The Political and Feminist Dimensions of Technological Determinism
The Idea of "Technology" and Postmodern Pessimism
Rationality versus Contingency in the History of Technology
Contributors
Index

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