Problematising the technological: The object as event?

Social Epistemology 19 (4):381 – 399 (2005)
Abstract
The paper asks how certain zones of technical practice or technologies come to matter as "the Technological", a way of construing political change in terms of technical innovation and invention. The social construction of technology (SCOT) established that things mediate social relations, and that social practices are constantly needed to maintain the workability of technologies. It also linked the production, representation and use of contemporary technologies to scientific knowledge. However, it did all this at a certain cost. To understand something as socially constructed implies that it can be positioned on a pre-given social grid. Making this understanding stick risks affronting others with the claim that their position is not singular, only ordinary. It also runs the risk of not having purchase on those aspects of technological relationality that overflow the framing context of the social (Callon et al. 2002). Building on the ground prepared by SCOT and relying on the work of (Stengers 2000) and (Simondon 1964, 1989), the paper discusses how technologies could be understood as relational events within the contemporary political space. Developing an account of technologies centred on relationality, this paper outlines an epistemology and ontology of the anomalies of technological events, and suggests how excess could explain the Technological.
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