Crucial Works of CTS

These texts powerfully influenced a critical strain of technology studies early in the development of the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies:

Also important were The Failure of Technology by Juenger, “The Question Concerning Technology” by Heidegger, The Dialectic of Enlightenment by Horkheimer and Adorno, and One-Dimensional Man by Marcuse.

These works typify critical technology studies:

Also important are Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life by Borgmann, Forces of Production and Progress Without People by David F. Noble, and Computer Power and Human Reason by Joseph Weizenbaum, among others.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and is provided to aid in framing our characterization of CTS.

Importantly, the critical theory of technology advanced by Feenberg is a parallel though separate (and often hostile) philosophy and politics of technology.

While not as academic in orientation, writers such as Kirkpatrick Sale, Jerry Mander, and Chellis Glendinning – often labeled “neo-Luddites” – exemplify a normatively and thematically aligned approach to technology, yet one that does not as often exemplify the methodological rigor nor the once prominent position within the field of STS. Authors like Neil Postman, Edward Tenner, and Sherry Turkle occupy a sort of boundary position between academic and popular audiences, but rarely have these been discussed in STS literatures. Recently, writers such as Evgeny Morozov, Nicholas Carr, Douglas Rushkoff, and Jaron Lanier have addressed the inherent political and ethical demands of specific technologies. Works by these thinkers also have thematic, political, and normative considerations similar to CTS, but are almost exclusively aimed at popular audiences. We might speculate about the welcome they would receive in the field if they possessed sufficient scholarly rigor. I would expect that their normative commitments might discourage STS scholars who might otherwise entertain them for their recognition of material agency, currently en vogue in the discipline (though seemingly only when human freedom is decidedly not a component of the work). A seemingly perennial theme in scholarly work is the concern that it ‘speaks’ only to academics, failing to reach neither an audience nor popular relevance outside the ivory tower. We might consider why such similar themes as those advanced by CTS scholars have received this popular audience for decades.

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