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_Determinisms and authors 27. < !------- test block: issue=_Determinisms and authors id=702 sec1name=Introduction imagetmplt=3577 ---------->
_Determinisms and authors
                 1969-1984
702/3597

January 2019    Dennis R. DuBe'     702/3597


Society and Technological Change by Rudi Volti (New York: St. Martin 's Press, 1988, 279 pp.
     extracts from a book review by Ellen Barton 7/3/2012, who teaches linguistics at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
           #3597   Created 04/15/2014   Updated 04/16/2014

Volti's initial premise is one that resonates positively to those familiar with composition research in the past decade; technology, Volti claims, not only affects the way we live, but is "itself a product of social, economic, political, and cultural patterns . . . [revealing] the nature of that society" (p. vii)

Of particular relevance to the analysis of the discourse of technology are Parts One, Three, and Six.

In Chapter One, he develops a social definition of technology as the human ability to develop "system[s] based on the application of knowledge, manifested in physical objects and organizational forms, for the attainment of specific goals" (p. 6)

the development of technology is "an inherently dynamic and cumulative process . . . one of continuous improvement in the internal workings of a particular technology" (pp. 7-8).

"There is no escaping the fact that technological changes that benefit society as a whole may harm individual members of that society" (p. 19). "A technologically dynamic economy generates labor-saving devices, but at the same time it produces a steady stream of new goods that are eagerly sought after. This means that labor-saving technologies are generally used to increase income, not to reduce the hours of work" (p. 89).

He discusses the question of technological determinism, defining this attitude as the fear that an independent force of technology "has taken on a life of its own, with technology advancing according to its own inner dynamic, and unrestrained by social arrangements, culture, and thought" (p. 224).

Volti concludes with a positive interpretation of the relationship between technology and social organizations and individuals. Technology's close relationship with industry and government, he claims, is necessary for technology to continue its crucial role in the connection between "our prosperity. . . and our ability to advance technologically" (p. 252). Technology's relationship with individuals, Volti claims, is

a bargain whereby we consume the fruits of technological advance in return for delegating to others the power to determine the technologies that shape the basic contour of our lives--everything from what we eat, to how we work, to the way we are entertained. Most people seem to believe that this is a fair bargain. (p. 259)

Volti concludes with a positive interpretation of the relationship between technology and social organizations and individuals. Technology's close relationship with industry and government, he claims, is necessary for technology to continue its crucial role in the connection between "our prosperity. . . and our ability to advance technologically" (p. 252). Technology's relationship with individuals, Volti claims, is

not volti: a bargain whereby we consume the fruits of technological advance in return for delegating to others the power to determine the technologies that shape the basic contour of our lives--everything from what we eat, to how we work, to the way we are entertained. Most people seem to believe that this is a fair bargain. (p. 259)



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