programme

Science, Technology and Society

Home/ Science, Technology and Society
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSLS2SC2024

Semester and Year Offered: Winter 2012

Course Coordinator and Team:Dr.Bidhan Chandra Dash

Email of course coordinator:bidhan@aud.ac.in

Pre-requisites: NA

AimScience and technology play important roles in our lives. However, understanding how science, technology, and society work together in shaping the world we inhabit is not easy. The attempt here isnot only to disentangle the multiple relationships between science, technology, and society, but also to understand how human beings perceive, relate, receive and experience the world around them through scientific knowledge and technological artefacts. Instead of treating science and technology as a matter of impact and implementation, this course will introduce a ‘new sociology’ which assumes that scientific knowledge and technological artefacts are socially shaped, not just in their usage, but also in their design and technical content. Science and technology is contested and constructed by societies, collectivity and institutions. The course will debate, whether the production and consumption of scientific knowledge is the prerogative and proprietary of a privileged few, or else society, culture and lived experiences of people play a significant role in the process? Why do we happily retreat into the world of machines? Is the modern world so taxing that human beings sometimes prefer to reconstitute it through technology? This course will attempt to unravel the multiple ways in which science and technology, individuals and institutions mutually shape one another to the benefit and sometimes detriment of society.

Objectives

  1. To introduce the students to the studies in science and technology and the foundational literature in the discipline of science and technology
  2. To reorient the students to the social dynamics of scientific innovations and the social aspect of technology
  3. To demystify the presented narrative of technology as a major force in social transformation.
  4. To introduce the students to the social shaping and construction of scientific knowledge and technology.
  5. To equip the students with major sociological debates on science and technology.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate the narratives of technological change and scientific innovations.
  2. Understand the process of innovation and production of technology from a sociological perspective.
  3. Have a basic knowledge of the core literatures and empirical works in the area of science and technology.
  4. Have a nuanced understanding of society and technology interplay in bringing about change in society.
  5. Relate to the material production of technology with that of the social and cultural context.
  6. Develop an interdisciplinary understanding of science, scientific knowledge and technological production.
  7. Develop a comparative perspective to the studies of science and technology
  8. Make a clear cognate connection between protests and movements to social and political transformation.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

The course is divided into seven modules. The first two modules are theoretical approaches through which the students discuss and debate over various issues on science and technology that are flagged in the next five modules

Module-I: Science, Technology and Sociology of Knowledge

This module introduces the students to the field of Science and Technology Studies. We begin with the Popper and Kuhn debate and trace it back to the ideas of rationalization of the world propounded by Max Weber. The module ends with a reflection on the Frankfurt school critique of scientific knowledge.

Module-II: Constructivism and Actor-Network: Critique

This module introduces the students to the emerging perspective of social construction of technology and Actor-Network theory which has comprehensively questioned the commonsenescial understanding of technology as a factor of impact and implementation.

Module-III: (Re)addressing Technology, Change and Resistance

This module interrogates the dominant narrative of change brought about by scientific progress and technological innovations. It brings back society into focus of study by looking at how scientific knowledge and technological innovations are products of specific conditions of society.

Module-IV: Media in Digital Age: Culture and Politics

This module discusses the central role of media (both mass and digital media) in the creation and construction of contemporary culture, economy and society. It looks at the politics in the age of digital media.

Module-V: Technoculture and Cultural Technologie

This module attempts to understand the emergence of technoculture that explains every aspect of social and cultural life in terms of technology and contrasts it with the increasing production of cultural technology that are created to control and manage contemporary society.

Module-VI: Science Fictions and Myth Making

This module aims at providing an understanding of fiction in production and dissemination of technology and the use of the same in the myth making process that impact the culture and politics of our society.

Module-VII: Almost Human: (Re)editing of Body and Cyborg

This module discusses the emerging social issues flagged with the innovations and the possibilities thereafter in the field of biotechnology.

Assessment Details with weights:

There will be 4 assessments in this course apart from the regular class participation

  • In class participation- 20%
  • Field Visits and assessment- 20%
  • Term Paper-30%
  • Class Test-30%

Reading List:

  1. Bloor, D. 1976. Knowledge and Social Imagery, Boston: Rutledge and Kagan Paul Ltd. Chapter-4
  2. Kuhn, T. S. 1970.The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
  3. Habermas, J. 1971. ‘Technology and Science as “Ideology” ’, in Toward a Rational Society. London: Heinemann.
  4. Merton, R.K. 1938. Technology and Science in Seventeenth Century England, Osiris, Vol. 4, (pp. 360-396)
  5. Marcuse, H. 2002. One Dimensional Man: Studies in the ideology of advanced Industrial Society, Rutledge, New York. (Introduction and Part-I)
  6. Bijkar, W.E. et al. ed. 1993.The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology, Massachusetts: MIT Press.Page: 9-83
  7. Oudshoorn, N. and Pinch, T. 2003. How Users Matter: the Co-construction of Technology, Massachusetts: MIT Press. Page:1-29 and 67-80
  8. Bijkar, W.E. et al. ed. 1992. Shaping Technology/Building Societies, London, MIT, Page: 225-258
  9. Berry, D. 2014, Critical Theory and the Digital, London: Bloomsberry,
  10. Castells, M. 2000. The Rise of the Network Society, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. I. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
  11. Castells, M. 2004. The Power of Identity, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. II. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
  12. Brook J. and Boal, I. 1995. Resisting the Virtual Life: the Culture and Politics of Information, New York: CityLights.
  13. Kellner, D.2003. Globalization, Technopolitics and Revolution. In The Future of
  14. Revolution: Rethinking Radical Change in the Age of Globalization, edited by John
  15. Foran, 180-194, New York: Zed Books Ltd.
  16. Nigroponte, N. 1995, Being Digital, London: Hodder and Stoughston.
  17. Castells, M eds, 2004, Network Society: A Cross Cultural Perspective, Northampton: Edward Elgar, Page No: 3-48 and 363-382,
  18. Boler, M. 2008, Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times, Massachusetts: MIT Press, Page: 31-52, 101-122.
  19. McLuhan, M. 1964, Understanding Media: An Extension of Man, London: Mac Graw-Hill, page numbers: 7-45, 81-97.
  20. Rajgopal, A, 2004, Politics After Television: Hindu Nationalism and the Reshaping of Publics in India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Page No: 30-62, 151-210.
  21. Ravindran, G. 2009, Moral Panics and Mobile Phones: The Cultural Politics of New Media Modernity in India, in Erwin Alampay, 2009, eds, Living the Information Society in Asia, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Research Studies, Page No: 93-108
  22. Waterman, P, 2005, Between a Political-Institutional Past and a Communicational Networked-Future? Reflections on The Third World Social Forum 2003, in De Jong, W. et al, eds, 2005, Global Activism and Global Media, London: Pluto Press, Page No: 68-83.
  23. Baber, Z. 1996. Science of Empire: Scientific Knowledge, Civilization and Colonial Rule in India, SUNY Series in Social Sciences: New York: State University of New York Press.
  24. Bernard S. Cohn, 1996. Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  25. Law, J. 1991. Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination, New York: Routledge.
  26. Abha Sur, 'Dispersed Radiance: Caste, Gender and Modern Science in India'
  27. Sanders, M.ed. 2008.The Philosophy of Science Fiction Films. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.
  28. Weldes, J. 2003. To Seek Out New Worlds: Science Fiction and World Politics, New York: Palgrave, Macmillan. Page 1-30.
  29. Nanda, M. 2002. Breaking the Spell of Dharma, New Delhi: Three Essays Collective.
  30. Nandy, A. 1988. Science, Hegemony and Violence: A Requiem for Modernity, New York: United Nations University.
  31. Bjelic, D.I. 2003.Galilio’s Pendulum: Science, Sexuality, and the Body-Instrument Link, New York: the State University of New York Press.Page No: 81-114
  32. Lavigne, C. 2013. Cyberpunk Women, Feminism and Science Fiction, London: McFarland and Company Inc. Page: 98-113. &145-160
  33. Turkle, S. 2008. The Inner History of Devices, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
  34. Wajcman, J. 1991. Feminism Confronts Technology, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press.

ADDITIONAL REFERENCE:

  1. Bauchspies, W.K, et al, ed. 2006. Science, Technology and Society: A Sociological Approach, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
  2. Fuller, S. 2006. Philosophy of Science and Technology Studies, New York: Rutledge, Page: 12 to
  3. Sismondo, S. 2010. Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Page: 12-22
  4. Bijkar, W.E. et al. ed. 1995. Of Bicycles, Backlites and Bulbs: Towards a Theory of Sociotechnical change, Massachusetts: MIT.
  5. Bell, D. 1973. The Coming of Post-Industrial Society. New York: Basic Books.
  6. Preston, P. 2001. 2001, 'Reshaping Communications: Technology, Information and Social Change', New Delhi: Sage Publications,
  7. Melzer, P. 2006. Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought, Austin: University of Texas Press. Page: 149-178.
  8. Lavigne, C. 2013. Cyberpunk Women, Feminism and Science Fiction, London: McFarland and Comp, any Inc. Page: 114-130.
  9. Cavallaro, D. 2000. Cyberpunk and Cyberculture, London: Athlone Press, Page: 72-126
  10. Kleinman, D. L.2005. Science and Technology in Society: From Biotechnology to the Internet, Oxford: Blackwell