1987: The Social Construction of Technological Systems

For day 19, an excerpt from Claude S. Fischer’s review of The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology edited by Wiebe E. Bijker, Thomas P. Hughes, and Trevor Pinch. The review appeared in the November 20, 1987 issue of Science.

“Science, in its naïve portrayals, discovers the way the world must be, the immutable and imperative connections among events. But many sciences—the life sciences, certainly—often describe the alternative paths history might have taken, the ways in which the world might have been otherwise.

So too, the contributors to The Social Construction of Technological Systems contend, with the history of technology.

Social Construction serves its intended agenda: to sensitize the student of technology to the social soul in the machine and to remind us that with artifacts, as with all outcomes of human action, it could have been otherwise. The task is to understand the roads not taken and why.”


Our 50 influential journal articles are listed here. The articles are in chronological order and will be freely available through the end of 2012.

For information about the MIT Press’ history, check out our 50th anniversary page.