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Understanding appropriate technological choice requires that you learn a basic vocabulary. This section presents short, informal descriptions of “appropriate,” “technology,” “capability,” “social construction of technology,” and “technological determinism.” At the end, you will find a media file for a Jeopardy to help you learn these terms.


Technology : As was said in the previous section, a technology is more than just a physical object. It is a device activated within a network of social relations called a socio-technical system. (See below for more on socio-technical systems or STSs.) Technologies are much more than value neutral tools; a technological object or artifact can become an extension of the human body, a prosthesis, that magnifies, focuses, intensifies, shapes, channels, and constrains human actions and activities. Taken by themselves they are incomplete and indeterminate; enacted within a socio-technical system, they accomplish human activities.

Socio-technical system

Socio-technical System . Determining whether a technology is appropriate requires close attention to the socio-technical background which forms a system, a “complex environment of interacting components, together with the networks of relationships among them.” According to Huff, a socio-technical system is “an intellectual tool to help us recognize patterns in the way technology is used and produced.” For example, Huff has his computing students write “Social Impact Statements” to outline the impact a computing technology would have on the socio-technical system (STS) in which it is being integrated. Students triangulate their impact claims through day-in-the-life scenarios, participatory observation, and surveys; any claim made on the impact of a technology has to be substantiated through three different methods of observation (in private conversations).

Socio-technical systems, thus, exhibit several characteristics.

  • STS analysis helps us understand how occupational and professional practice is shaped and constrained by different surrounding environments.
  • Socio-technical systems are first and foremost systems. While they are composed of discrete parts, these are embedded in a network of relations and interact with one another. Hence, STS description requires systemic or ecological thinking; a STS must be approached as a whole which is not reducible to the sum of its parts
  • The different components of a STS can include hardware, software, physical surroundings, people/groups/roles, procedures, laws/statutes/regulations, and information systems. This list of distinguishable components varies according to context and purpose. These distinguishable components are, nevertheless, inseparable from one another. Repeating the previous point, STSs are, first and foremost, systems .
  • STSs embody or embed values . This makes it possible to prepare Social Impact Statements that identify and locate embedded values, chart out potential conflicts, and recommend system adjustments to remediate these. STS analysis, thus, adds a dimension to the determination of the appropriateness of a given technology by raising the question of whether its incorporation into a specific STS leads to value conflicts or resolves value vulnerabilities.
  • STSs change due to internal value issues as well as issues stemming from their interactions with other STSs. STS changes are directional in that they trace out trajectories or paths of change. Thus, another test of appropriate technology is whether its integration into a STS places that system on a positive or negative trajectory of change .
  • To repeat a point made just above, STS analysis employs systems or ecological thinking . Just as important as the properties of the parts that compose a socio-technical system are the relations between these parts and the ways in which they interact. These relations and interactions give rise to properties that STSs as wholes display but which cannot be found when analyzing the constituent parts in isolation from one another. Another way of putting this is that STSs require holistic think that is markedly different from what sociologists call “methodological individualism.”
  • Werhane et al. in Alleviating Poverty provide an insightful account of systems and systems thinking. They see this as necessary in building and analyzing alliances between stakeholders devoted to diminishing poverty.

Questions & Answers

Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Berger describes sociologists as concerned with
Mueller Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to business, management, and ethics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 14, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11959/1.4
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