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Inside Technology

Inside Technology combines the traditional strengths of the history of technology with the methodology and insights gained in the sociology of scientific knowledge, and thus provides a deeper understanding of the social processes underlying technology. A crucial aspect of the series is the absence of both disciplinary and theoretical agendas. Because of the multifaceted nature of technology, insights from a variety of disciplines are vital to understanding the content and context of technology—engineering, the natural sciences, history, sociology, economics, political science, and anthropology. It does not promote any single conceptual framework over another; rather the goal is to stimulate a variety of perspectives that address the social shaping of technology.

An Ethnography of Design and Innovation
Edited by Dominique Vinck

Everyday Engineering was written to help future engineers understand what they are going to be doing in their everyday working lives, so that they can do their work more effectively and with a broader social vision. It will also give sociologists deeper insights into the sociotechnical world of engineering. The book consists of ethnographic studies in which the authors, all trained in both engineering and sociology, go into the field as participant-observers.

On the Dynamics of Technological Change in Medicine

Insight and Industry examines the "careers" of four major technologies that have reshaped medicine by allowing new forms of insight into the human interior. Blume's studies of ultrasound, thermography, computerized tomography, and nuclear magnetic resonance reveal the many ways in which manufacturers, medical personnel, and patients affect both the form and the use of innovative technologies.

Technology, Culture, and Change in the British Bicycle Industry

The production of bicycles in Britain and the United States recently suffered severe setbacks. The renowned American Schwinn brand was downgraded to the mass market by its new owners following bankruptcy, and Britain's Raleigh came close to closure because of high debts and poor returns, saved only by a last-minute management buyout. In both cases, market share and credibility were lost to newer, more innovative firms, as well as to a recentering of the global bicycle industry in the Far East.

A Study of the Enrollment of People, Knowledge, and Machines

In Building the Trident Network, Maggie Mort approaches the United Kingdom's Trident submarine and missile system as a sociotechnical network. Drawing on the sociology of scientific and technical knowledge and on actor-network theory, Mort recounts how the Trident program was stabilized in the United Kingdom and brought into "successful" production.

Classification and Its Consequences

What do a seventeenth-century mortality table (whose causes of death include "fainted in a bath," "frighted," and "itch"); the identification of South Africans during apartheid as European, Asian, colored, or black; and the separation of machine- from hand-washables have in common? All are examples of classification—the scaffolding of information infrastructures.

Since the late 1960s the Internet has grown from a single experimental network serving a dozen sites in the United States to a network of networks linking millions of computers worldwide. In Inventing the Internet, Janet Abbate recounts the key players and technologies that allowed the Internet to develop; but her main focus is always on the social and cultural factors that influenced the Internets design and use.

Technology is business, and dealing with the media, the public, financiers, and government agencies can be as important to an invention's success as effective product development. To understand how rhetoric works in technology, one cannot do better than to start with the American inventor Thomas Alva Edison and the incandescent light bulb.

The Discursive Politics of Genetic Engineering in Europe and the United States

Visual Representations, Visual Culture, and Computer Graphics in Design Engineering

The role of representation in the production of technoscientific knowledge has become a subject of great interest in recent years. In this book, sociologist and art critic Kathryn Henderson offers a new perspective on this topic by exploring the impact of computer graphic systems on the visual culture of engineering design.

Essays on Technical Change


Ranging from broad inquiries into the roles of economics and sociology in the explanation of technological change to an argument for the possibility of "uninventing" nuclear weapons, this selection of Donald MacKenzie's essays provides a solid introduction to the style and substance of the sociology of technology.

Studies in the International Standardization of Telecommunications

Few modern technologies are designed to stand alone. Because most machines must now fit into systems and be compatible with other technologies, the creation of standards has become a fundamental element of design and engineering. Conflicts such as the "color television war" of the 1970s and recent disputes over high-definition television (HDTV) highlight the complexities of the standard-setting process.

Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America


The Closed World offers a radically new alternative to the canonical histories of computers and cognitive science. Integrating political, cultural, and technological history, it argues that we can make sense of computers as tools only when we simultaneously grasp their roles as metaphors and political icons.

Decision Support Techniques and Medical Practices

Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change


This book crystallizes and extends the important work Wiebe Bijker has done in the last decade to found a full-scale theory of sociotechnical change that describes where technologies come from and how societies deal with them. Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs integrates detailed case studies with theoretical generalizations and political analyses to offer a fully rounded treatment both of the relations between technology and society and of the issues involved in sociotechnical change.

An Exploration of Engineering Culture, Design, and Research in Nineteenth-Century France and America

If it is true, as Tocqueville suggested, that social and class systems shape technology, research, and knowledge, then the effects should be visible both at the individual level and at the level of technical institutions and local environments. That is the central issue addressed in Constructing a Bridge, a tale of two cultures that investigates how national traditions shape technological communities and their institutions and become embedded in everyday engineering practice.

Studies in Sociotechnical Change

Technology is everywhere, yet a theory of technology and its social dimension remains to be fully developed. Building on the influential book The Social Construction of Technological Systems, this volume carries forward the project of creating a theory of technological development and implementation that is strongly grounded in both sociology and history. The 12 essays address the central question of how technologies become stabilized, how they attain a final form and use that is generally accepted.

Information Management and Industrial Geophysics at Schlumberger, 1920-1940

This is the story of how one company created and codified a new science "on the run," away from the confines of the laboratory. By construing its service as scientific, Schlumberger was able to get the edge on the competition and construct an enviable niche for itself in a fast-growing industry.

A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance

Donald MacKenzie follows one line of technology - strategic ballistic missile guidance through a succession of weapons systems to reveal the workings of a world that is neither awesome nor unstoppable. He uncovers the parameters, the pressures, and the politics that make up the complex social construction of an equally complex technology.

Donald MacKenzie is Reader in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh.

Social Knowledge and Intelligent Machines

In Artificial Experts, Collins explains what computers can't do, but he also studies the ordinary and extraordinary things that they can do. He argues that the machines we create are limited because we cannot reproduce in symbols what every community knows, yet we give our machines abilities by the way we embed them in our society. He unfolds a compelling account of the difference between human action and machine intelligence, the core of which is a witty and learned explanation of knowledge itself, of what communities know and the ways in which they know it.

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