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FACTORS THAT SHAPE TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS Introduction The idea of the social shaping of technology springs from the argument about determinism The main comparison is based on the different conceptions of determinism whether information technology can be seen as shaping society or whether society shapes the way in which information technology affects our lives In his paper Theorising the ITSociety Relationship Hughie Mackay defines technological determinism as the notion that technological development is autonomous of society it shapes society but is not reciprocally influenced Rather it exists outside society but at the same time influences social change This viewpoint suggests that a finished product is handed to the end user who then takes it and uses it in exactly the way the designer intended The product does not have an impact on an individuals life it now becomes the task of the individual to customise the product to suit their needs The end user is just as important in the social shaping of the technology as the designer if the product proves to be useless to the end user and is abandoned in favour of a different product This happens without any resistance from the social aspects of research and development as no feedback is required beyond the initial test phase So once the technology is available it has a pre-determined impact regardless of where it is to be used or by whom Concerns Many social scientists generally assume that IT and social developments are dependent on each other They are concerned about the influence that technological change may bring and that IT is making the world an unequal place between developed and developing countries and that IT has different effects in different societies Existing inequalities between countries and indeed within countries will be increased rather then decreased by IT developments Edge mentions some of his concerns in his article Social Shaping of technology - social shaping at least eight types of
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