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Rethinking Science, Technology, and Social Change

By Ralph Schroeder
Cover of Rethinking Science, Technology, and Social Change

Schroeder, R. (2007) Rethinking Science, Technology, and Social Change. Stanford University Press. 192 pp. 1 table, 3 figures, $39.95 cloth. 978-0-8047-5588-7

Rethinking Science, Technology, and Social Change challenges the prevailing notion that science and technology are constructed or socially shaped. The text puts forth a case for technological determinism, based on a realistic and pragmatic account of science and technology, informed by historical comparisons.

Schroeder begins by exploring the social organization of scientific and technological advances; the intersecting trajectories of big science and technological systems; and the impact of science and technology on economic change. He goes on to discuss the social implications of technology, including the way that it affects politics and consumption. The book then rethinks traditional theories about the relationship between science, technology, and social change. The argument presented shifts the debate on topics such as the relationship between growth and sustainability, and thus has important policy implications. This book will be of great interest to scholars, scientists, and anyone interested in understanding how science and technology are transforming our world.

About the author

Ralph Schroeder is James Martin Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. His books include Possible Worlds: The Social Dynamic of Virtual Reality Technology and Max Weber and the Sociology of Culture.


“This book grapples with one of the most pressing issues of our time – the social impact of new technologies. It provides a refreshingly provocative view of the force of technology in determining the conditions for our everyday lives. It is a welcome and highly original addition to the social studies of science and technology.”

Judy Wajcman, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University

“This is a timely and bold book. It takes issue with the knee jerk reaction to ‘Technological Determinism’ that is prevalent in social science, and explores how technology plays a material role in societies and influences social institutions and change. . . . This landmark study will need to be taken into account by historians, sociologists, economists, engineers, scientists, and those concerned with science, technology, and innovation policy.”

Ian Miles, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester

“Schroeder has developed a skepticism about what he finds the reductionism of the dominant social constructivist thought. His ideas have not been popular so far, and he would be surprised if reaction to the book were much different. Such disagreement, he says, is how science works when it works.”

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Publication date:
January 2007
Stanford University Press