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Technology, Social Construction of

Wiebe E. Bijker


The social construction of technology (SCOT) is one approach among several constructivist ways of studying science and technology that emerged in the 1980s. Here, “constructivist” means that the truth of scientific facts and the working of technical artifacts are studied as accomplishments; that is, as being constructed, rather than as intrinsic properties of those facts and machines (→  Constructivism ). The phrase social construction was first used by Berger and Luckmann (1966) in their “treatise in the sociology of knowledge.” Building on the phenomenological tradition, and particularly on the work of Alfred Schutz, they argue that reality is socially constructed and that these processes of social construction should be the object of the sociology of knowledge. Berger and Luckmann are concerned with the reality of social institutions and their focus is on society at large, rather than on sub-cultures such as science and technology. Then, scholarship developed around such themes as the social construction of mental illness, deviance, gender, law, and class. In the 1970s the social construction of scientific facts followed ( Latour & Woolgar 1979/1986 ), and in the 1980s the social construction of artifacts ( Bijker et al. 1987 ). Constructivist studies of science and technology come in a variety of forms, mild and radical ( Sismondo 1993 ). The mild versions merely stress ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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