"Technology and Social Agency
is the most provocative and significant book on the relationship between the material world and the human condition to appear in anthropology since Leslie A. White's The Evolution of Culture
(1959). Unlike its polemic predecessor, however, Technology and Social Agency
avoids instrumental determinism and establishes the challenging alternative of technology as a total social fact centered around individual human beings in meaningful communities of cultural practice. In reaffirming the human and social dimensions of all technological practice and technique, Marcia-Anne Dobres establishes instead the role of material items in all social discourse and social reproduction. As a poetic manifesto for technology and human action Technology and Social Agency
will be a flash point of intelligent debate of these issues for the next decade, and perhaps beyond." Professor John Edward Clark, Brigham Young University. <!--end-->
"The true value of this book is that it has brought together a wide range of previous work on technolgy. It is a well-referenced discussion of a significant trend in technological studies, an area of study to which Dobres herself has made a major contribution. I hope Dobres will continue to make a significant contribution to these debates." Bill Sillar, University College London, for Antiquity 2003
"I found the book a thorougly researched and well-argued example of an inter-disciplinary approach, bringing together ideas from phenomenological philosphy,the sociology of technology and science and from material culture debates within British and American Anthropology ... a well informed work that is both highly innovative and challenging." Cambridge Anthropology
From the Back Cover
The book presents a new conceptual framework and a set of research principles with which to study and interpret technology from a phenomenological perspective. The author is explicitly concerned with studying ancient technological practices but the general concept of technology forms the centrepiece of discussion and is defined as an explicitly social, symbolic, and embodied endeavour that simultaneously brings into being both human agents and their material world.
Dobres argues that, for ancient technologies and products to be fully understood, we need to appreciate the historically constituted ways in which social agency, technical knowledge and the gestural acts of artefact production and use were socially meaningful and, thus, politically charged.