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Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism Paperback – June 2, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0262691673 ISBN-10: 0262691671 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (June 2, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262691671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262691673
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Merritt Roe Smith is Cutten Professor of the History of Technology at MIT and the author or editor of six books, most recently Inventing America: A History of the United States.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on February 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
This collection of essays purportedly addresses the philosophical theory of technological determinism - the belief that human behavior and culture is driven by technology and its unintended (or intended) consequences. Of course, the theory has many nuances and permutations, which are explored in depth by the various writers here. The book starts off with fine introductions to the topic, particularly the opening essay by Merritt Roe Smith and the seminal "Do Machines Make History?" by Robert Heilbroner. Unfortunately the book then descends into standard turgid theoretical obfuscations of dubious usefulness to anyone other than each professor's immediate colleagues. Examples include the standard academic exercise of reinterpreting the ideas of earlier thinkers and calling the results a new theory (Bruce Bimber, Thomas Mina), or forcing existing theories together and taking credit for the resulting "breakthrough" (Rosalind Williams, Leo Marx). Another running issue in this book is a lack of distinction among technology, progress, and modernity, as can be seen in the otherwise fascinating historical report by Michael L. Smith. And as usual for academic books that collect essays by various professors, everybody repeats the basic tenets of the theory at issue before embarking on their particular interpretation or example of interest. One benefit of this book is that the editors (both in their introduction and through the essay selection process) do not try to nail down a particular position on the many nuances of technological determinism, which is healthy for purposes of discussion. Regardless, little is accomplished by the writers except esoteric reinterpretations and feeble grasps for significance. [~doomsdayer520~]
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dawn A. Pompey on April 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book arrived in excellent condition. My daughter seem to love the book and is working with it for one of her classes for college.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Heather Dewey-Hagborg on January 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Great collection of ssays from both sides of the fence backed of with concrete examples. Good book for a class touching on the subject.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ChaFitz on November 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I personally loved the content of the book. The exterior of this book was nice and it looks as if it were new.
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