Handout- Study Notes week 3- Turkle and Putnam

LECTURE NOTES HANDOUT- LECTURE 2 (week 3)- Technologies of socialization & Social Capital

Understanding Technological Society, Humanities 201, Fall 2016, Prof. Edel


Readings this week:

Sherry Turkle- “Alone Together”

Robert Putnam- “Bowling Alone”

Putnam & Sanders “Still Bowling Alone”


Key Concepts/Terms from the readings:


Social Capital

Civil Society & Civic engagement

Aspects of interaction & group membership: Connectedness, Intimacy, Trust


“Strong ties” vs “weak ties” (e.g. Mark Granovetter 1973. “The Strength of weak ties” Amer.Journ. of Sociology.)

Social networks


Additional Vocabulary:



Homogenous, Heterogeneous





Proximity / Proximate

Technological Determinism



Major Theories From:  Science and Technology Studies (S.T.S.)

Actor Network Theory –or- Actant Network Theory (A.N.T.) – Emphasizes balance and equivalency of elements

in the system, machines and people as actants, things that act, that have effect, and seeks to understand all outcomes and understanding as result of interaction. A key concepts include the “Black Box” representing the closure of objects after design, and the invisibility of the details of function to most user, as well as the idea of translation between heterogeneous elements of networks. Focus on starting from a Micro Level and moving out to Mezzo level of analysis. Draws from Anthropology and STS. E.g. Bruno Latour & Michel Callon.

Social Construction, or the Social Construction of Technological (S.C.O.T.) – Emphasizes Interpretive Flexibility,

the idea that any object, or interaction can mean multiple things, that meanings change, and that from different perspectives or moments of contact the ‘thing’ has a different existence/function/use/effect. The multiple Perspectives often rely on specific repeated versions deemed Frames or ways of understanding the thing, some of the frames are more enabled, more dominant, more easy to arrive to and accept. Focus on Mezzo Level of analysis. Draws From sociology and STS. E.g. Trevor Pinch, Wiebe Bijker, to a certain extent Langdon Winner.

Large Technological Systems (L.T.S.) – Emphasizes the idea that by investing time, money, power, into the

materiality of a system it is harder to change, this Momentum, and the fact that the systems interact provide powerful forces in interactions, that may be invisible because they become background to the smaller more local technologies within the large system.  Focuses on starting from the Macro level of analysis, and working down into the components as part of analysis. Draws from Sociology and STS. E.g. Thomas Hughes.