Technology Studies and the Sociological Debate on Monitoring of Social Interactions

Technology Studies and the Sociological Debate on Monitoring of Social Interactions

Francesca Odella (Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento, Trento, Italy)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/IJACI.2016010101
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Abstract

The article reviews methodological perspectives adopted in the analysis of social implications of scientific and technical developments and in particular the current sociological debate involving monitoring technologies and social research. A particular attention is devoted to social network analysis, an emergent area of sociological research that focuses on the relational implications of technologies in organizations, small groups and other contexts of social participation. Using case studies and examples of technologies implementation, the article describes the advancements in this field of enquiry and highlights the main elements of the structure of interactions in virtual and technology mediated communications. It also pays attention to the implications of human interaction monitoring technologies such as video surveillance and GPS tracking, and the public role that sociological research can have in advancing ethical and organizational issues related with their adoption.
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Sociological Studies Of Technology

Technology is usually defined as artifacts, processes and machines and the knowledge – based on technical or engineering knowledge – used to design and operate them. Technology from the sociological perspective is always a relational object because its creation, use and diffusion is based on social processes relating things, signs and meaning, humans and institutions. The former social studies of technologies (Bijker, Hugues and Pinch, 1987) concentrated on scientific knowledge and historical cases of technical innovation (electricity, nuclear power, pasteurization). The field of empirical research moved then to the study of complex interactions between societal interests and design of various technologies from cars, bicycles and missiles to medical devices and plastic materials (Bijker and Law, 1992).

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