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Who produces social technologies? 23 Oct, 2009

Posted by Maarten Derksen in Uncategorized.
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The relevance to the social sciences also lies in the fact that, as Bas and Paul note, the social sciences have been losing their near-monopoly on defining, analysing, producing and manipulating social relations. Social technology has been democratized. In our chapter we give the example of social software. Katja’s social network analysis is another example, and I think Jonna’s neurofeedback users do something similar but on a psychological level. That means social technology is increasingly salient as an object of study for the social sciences: sociality is more and more something that people create technically. The instrumental, technoscientific approach to social life is not the exclusive province of social scientists anymore, but by the same token, it demands all the more attention as an object of study.

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1. Katja Mayer - 23 Oct, 2009

Thanks for your comment, Maarten. I agree, but would like to extend the thesis that the social sciences further loose their monopoly on social scientific expertise, and with that their main object of research: the social. The phenomenon of the social is now to be found everywhere: molecules and proteins are sociable, complexity theory loves the social as the most interesting and complicated field of research to extract rules and henceforth calculus for other complex phenomena, marketing strategists socialize in networking platforms and connect their data, and so forth….

This is also why I do not believe the “dissolution of the social” is to be feared, more the proliferation of “the social” as perspective on, explanation AND even legitimation of everything. On the other hand I think (with Mike Savage and al.) that it might be quite healthy for the social sciences to reflect anew about their main object of research, which has become so self-evident, maybe even “taken for granted”. It might open up their own constructions and enactments of this phenomenon.

This is also why I like the concept of “social technology”. It reminds the social scientists of their own (intrumental) enactments and performances and brings back the issue of “optimizing society” via all kinds of “social engineering” into the discourse.


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