Reframing social groups, closure, and stabilization in the social construction of technology

Social Epistemology 19 (2 & 3):231 – 253 (2005)
Abstract
This paper complicates, extends, and modifies Pinch and Bijker's original social construction of technology, specifically their concepts of relevant social groups, closure, and stabilization, in order to gain insight into long-term processes of how we use and understand technology. First, this paper identifies four broad categories of relevant social groups in the social construction of technology based on stake holdings and compares them according to their activities, resources, and directionality. Second, the paper discusses the distinctions between closure and stabilization of technological artifacts, introducing temporary closure and structural flexibility as a means of understanding how different technologies can relate to each other. Third, using Rosch's cognitive approach to categorization, the paper suggests structural flexibility as a means of operationalizing stabilization. These reconceptualizations offer researchers a broader scale with which to understand the social construction of technology.
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