Upon Opening The Black Box And Finding IT Empty

5 Questions | Total Attempts: 43

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Upon Opening The Black Box And Finding IT Empty

This quiz is based on the Week 5 reading:Winner, Langdon (1993) 'Upon Opening the Black Box and Finding it Empty: Social Constructivism and the Philosophy of Technology' in Science Technology and Human Values, 18, no. 3 (Summer 1993): pp. 362-378Now jump into the black box!


Questions and Answers
  • 1. 
    Langdon Winner poses the question "Where does one go to learn what one needs to know to write confidently about ... technology?" (pp.363) Using your initial thoughts how would you answer this question? What type of knowledge would you need to have and where would you get it?
  • 2. 
    What is social costructivism?
    • A. 

      Social constructivism is a theory of knowledge that looks carefully into the inner workings of real technologies and their hostories to see what is actually taking place.

    • B. 

      Social constructivism is a sociological theory of knowledge that considers how social phenomena, like technology develops in social contexts.

    • C. 

      Social constructivism involves explaining how technologies arise, how they are shaped through various kinds of social interaction.

  • 3. 
    Langdon states that the social constructivism approach studies "interpretive flexibility" which he explains (pp.366):One begins by noticing that people in different situations interpret the meaning of a particular machine or design instrument in different ways. People may use the same kind of artifact for widely different purposes. The meanings attached to a particular artifact and its uses can vary widely as well. In this way of seeing, sociologists and historians must locate the "relevant social groups" involved in the development of a particular technological device or system or process. They must pay attention to the variety of interpretations of what a particular technology entity in a process of development means and how people act in different ways to achieve their purposes within that process.Considering interpretive flexibility, briefly analyse how people from different groups (age, sex, etc.  and include yourself) may use an ipod and identify which groups you think are "relevant social groups."
  • 4. 
    What are Langdon's crticisms of social constructivism? (pp.368-373)
    • A. 

      They totally disreagrd the notion of society. They base their knowledge on little technological understanding. Their approach only looks at social actors on a basic level.

    • B. 

      They totally disregard the social consequences of technical choice. The field of study narrowly focuses on what they deem to be relevant social groups. They fail to see more deeply seated processes in society and lack an evaluative stance.

    • C. 

      They are too concerned with the social implications around technology and not the technology itself. They are not concerned with the social choices groups make. They make sweeping remarks about technological progression.

  • 5. 
    What is Langdon's overall assessment of social constrictivism? (pp.374-376)Social constructivism offers _   ____  _______ ________ on the issues that surround technology.
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