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SOC3061-Lecture 03 Military and Productive Technologies.

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1 SOC3061-Lecture 03 Military and Productive Technologies

2 Last week: Technological Determinism as a theory of society and a theory of technological change Technological Determinism as a theory of society and a theory of technological change Empirical case-studies question the validity of TD: we need a richer model Empirical case-studies question the validity of TD: we need a richer model

3 Perspectives on Military Technology Relevance of military technology during and after the Cold War Relevance of military technology during and after the Cold War Traditional theories of the development of military technology: Traditional theories of the development of military technology: 1. Rational response to external threats 2. It follows the internal logic of technology 3. Consequence of organisational processes and bureaucratic conflict (e.g. US President, USAF, USN, industrial producers, etc.)

4 Case-studies James Fallow (SST): design of M-16. Organisational styles and criteria James Fallow (SST): design of M-16. Organisational styles and criteria Michael Armacost (SST): the Thor-Jupiter controversy between USAF and USN Michael Armacost (SST): the Thor-Jupiter controversy between USAF and USN Mary Kaldor (SST): the “baroque arsenal”. How the peculiar conditions of the military market shape technology Mary Kaldor (SST): the “baroque arsenal”. How the peculiar conditions of the military market shape technology Rachel Weber (SST): gender and military technology Rachel Weber (SST): gender and military technology Donald MacKenzie (SST) Donald MacKenzie (SST)

5 Productive technology Invisible, but still central Economist and sociologists on productive technology: Information society (capital/labour > information/knowledge) Information society (capital/labour > information/knowledge) Post-Fordism (end of mass- production, unskilled labour) Post-Fordism (end of mass- production, unskilled labour) Postmodernity (work has become knowledge-based work) Postmodernity (work has become knowledge-based work)

6 In general: technology as an external force that overpowers pre-existing forms of social differentiation In general: technology as an external force that overpowers pre-existing forms of social differentiation Sociology of work: - inexorable development of the industrial society, driven by the desire of greater industrial efficiency - New technologies required automation, de- skilling, repetitiveness. It’s the inevitable result of progress David Landes: “the machine imposed a new discipline”

7 For an anti-deterministic perspective Actually, the effects of new machinery have been built into its design. There are always other possibilities. Production technology as the result of our social relations Technical choices are always social choices as well.

8 Case-studies from the Marxist Tradition Marc Bloch: on the watermill/hand mill Marc Bloch: on the watermill/hand mill Harry Braverman: deskilling and homogenization of the working-class in order to subordinate labour Harry Braverman: deskilling and homogenization of the working-class in order to subordinate labour David Noble: machine tool automation. Alternative ways to automate: numerical control / record playback David Noble: machine tool automation. Alternative ways to automate: numerical control / record playback

9 Numerical Control

10 The Marxist Tradition (To be discussed next week) Marx as a technological determinist? Focus on capital-labour relations and deskilling processes But see Cockburn and Hofmann (SST)

11 Conclusions Social relations are already embodied in the actual design of artefacts Different designs = different priorities


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