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Criticisms of SCOT

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Stephan Larose

March 5, 2014 Criticisms of SCOT Review of SCOT • Upholds principle of symmetry. • Advocates explaining technological change by reference to social practice; no agency or power can be the reason of change itself. • Technology can only be explained by reference to the social elements that have produced its stabilization—strong brand of social constructivism. • Any theoretical model simplifies a complex reality, thus critical evaluation is in order; o Narrowness of scope; can we really explain technical change by focusing on the development stage?  Counter: SCOT is not concerned with the aftermath, but only has a principal aim of explaining technical change rather than social impact.  But; can this really suffice as an explanation or is it inflexible? • Interpretive flexibility is a little too rigid; does an artifact ever really leave or is it always capable of re-emerging? o Structural exclusion; what about excluded groups in technical choice and setting of technical agendas?  Pays attention only to RSGs than groups that have been supressed. • Consider that the public was never included in the design process of the high-efficiency lamp, even though they were relevant as consumers.  Exclusion of some social groups (incl. women, racial minorities, and manual workers), though they might not have discernable impacts or mentioned in historical documents, matters as they may be “invisible factors.”  ie. Richard Dyer’s work on film technologies published “Making White People White,” where he claimed that these technologies have been implicitly shaped by a common market of ethnicity—skin color. Typically, these technologies are fine-tuned to provide a pleasing rendition of white faces, sometimes at expense to other skin colors—reinforcing certain skin colors as pleasing aesthetic skin tones. o Disregards the social structure and the larger power relations within which technological change takes place;  How technical choice may involve dynamics beyond those revealed, or may have deeper origins that go back centuries ago.  Are micro-level analyses adequate to explain the dynamics of technological choice?  Symbolic Interactionist perspective; looks at the meaning or symbolic part of interaction; trying to reconstitute the meaning people gave to things; sociologists focus on the intentions, self-reflexivity, and motiva
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