Social Studies of Technology: Perspectives for AmI and RFID

Els Soenens, Mireille Hildebrandt, Martin Meints (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Abstract

Before presenting the major social theories that may be relevant for the study of technology in society, this section pays brief attention to the determinist perspective, as this may be a widespread perspective amongst both technology optimists and technology pessimists. Determinism, however, will not bring us much news about the way technologies evolve in
continuous interaction with both other technologies and the people that use or design them. We will focus on a discussion of different social theories to capture promising ways to observe and describe socio-technical phenomena. Different social theories start from different assumptions when conceptualizing the relationship between society and technology. This
results in diverging questions as to both the development and the application of RFID as an AmI enabling technology.

Three constructivist perspectives will be presented: the social shaping of technologies (SST), the social construction of technologies (SCOT) and the actor network theory (ANT). While other social theories can of course be applied to the field of
AmI, we think that the discrepancies between the technological determinist and socialconstructivist theories provide a good starting point to further elaborate the social study of AmI. In the next section (5.4), one of the more interesting types of constructivist perspectives, the TFI model, will be applied in more detail to RFID. As a conceptual framework TFI fits
well the 'weak social constructivist' approach, discussed hereunder, since it explains how contextual factors (formal and informal) influence the technical layers of information systems (in this case AmI), without suggesting that the social layer of reality explains it all. In this section we will give some special attention to the ANT approach.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUnknown
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2006

Publication series

NameRFID, Profiling and AmI, FIDIS Deliverable D7.7

Keywords

  • Social theories
  • RFID and Ambient Intelligence

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