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Sociotechnical Ensemble and Technology Theories


Currently, technology has undergone significant development. This has resulted in an effect on various social issues of human life. This interaction has resulted in an ensemble. The ensemble could be perceived from a social perspective such as an organization or in technical terms. In addition, such an organization could be analyzed technically for instance in terms of its structures.

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Thesis Statement

There are diverse ways in which technology has been integrated into various communication theories such as instrumentalist, determinism, substantive, and constructivism and its effects on society. The discussion of this paper seeks to illustrate the various ways in which technology is a socio-techno ensemble through analysis of the various theories of technology which include determinism, instrumentalism, constructivism, and substantive.

Technology and determinism theory

Determinism refers to the fact that every action either mental or physical has got its cause. In the presence of the cause, it directly follows that the event will result automatically (Marcus, 2005, para.12). This means that the theory of determinism does not give room to chance in the occurrence of events.

About socio-technical ensemble, there is a link between technology and determinism. Technology is perceived as a force that has a direct influence on the social aspects of human life. This means that technology can cause a change in human life. For instance, when less advanced people in terms of technology come to relate with more advanced people, the lifestyle of the primitive group would gradually be influenced by their use of technology. With the development of technology, there has been a gradual change in the mode of communication within society. Technology has also affected the mode of leisure.

For instance, with the invention of television, there was an emergence of a new form of entertainment. Society has embraced technological changes. This shows that technology is a major revolutionary force that contributes to social change (Daniel & John, 1997, Para 20).

Technology And Instrumentalism

Instrumentalism refers to a philosophy that regards every idea to be an avenue or tool used to achieve the desired outcome. This means that technology by itself is a mere tool which human beings use for satisfaction of needs.

Concerning socio-technical ensemble, technology is used within society to cause changes. This means that human beings can control technological inventions either positively or otherwise.

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According to Daniel and John (1997), through technological development, it has been possible to manufacture various categories of tools (para 20). These tools can be used to help humanity in their daily life but they can also be used to bring destruction. Consider a knife; it can be used both as a tool to help man in his work but also as a weapon. This depends on the intention of the individual.

This means that technology is integrated within the society but it does not have a direct influence in bringing about changes within the society. It is the human beings who have the primary capacity of bringing social change.

The most recent technological development in information technology. The various computer websites are controlled by human beings. This is through a well-designed system of rules and regulations. These regulations can be in terms of who is granted access, the mode of communication that is to be used amongst others. This shows that technology can be socially- technically designed (Rob & Christina, 2002, para 11).

Technology And Constructivism Theory

This refers to the philosophy that human beings design the world they live in according to reflection and understanding of their own experiences. The theory of constructivism is mainly used in the learning environment. It insinuates that it is the social forces that lead to the development of technology. The technology only advances through the support of the social environment (Communication, technology, and society: Theory and practice, n.d, para.3).

This theory stresses mostly the construction of knowledge within a learning environment and not a reproduction. This means that one is required to construct knowledge out of own experiences. The mind structures and beliefs are supposed to be used to interpret the events (Melissa, 1995, para.7).

According to Melissa, the emergence of new technologies and their incorporation into the learning situations is resulting in a complete transformation of the learning environment (1995, para.9).

This means that technology will enhance the concept of constructivism in the process of learning. One of the areas that technology affects is problem-solving amongst the students. Due to the continued growth of technology, students in technology-rich schools are becoming more constructive. This is because they are taking great responsibility in their learning. It has become possible for students to work in a project-like situation individually but they can collaborate through the use of technology.

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Technology also influences social constructivism. Social constructivism emphasized greatly the importance of culture in the process of human development. The theory states that the teacher has an important role in the development of a child. This is because he engages the students in activities that motivate them to be creative. This is mainly through the development of instructional strategies (Social constructivism theories, n.d, para 12).

Currently, the use of technology has resulted in the advancement of instructional strategies used in the learning environment thus enabling the attainment of the objectives of social constructivism. One such application of technology is the use of telecommunication. For instance, the use of the internet and other technologies such as email enables greater interaction amongst students and their tutors. This results in an increment in the social construction concerning the desired meaning. Telecommunication also provides the students with intensive informational resources.

It has also become possible to incorporate simulation in the process of learning. Simulation refers to the process of learning in which one mimics a situation that exists in a real-life situation. Through simulation, it is possible to forecast a future result. For instance, through computer technology, it is possible to develop models that can be used to analyze a particular output. This shows that technology has is ensembled into constructivism through the integration of the concept of ‘learning by doing’ (Paul, 1995, para.1).

Technology And Substantive

The theory of substantive states that technology does not result from human beings and is thus beyond the control of human beings. This means that technology is perceived to be an individual force that is completely separated from society. This means that technology can influence social life from the outside which shows that it imposes itself on society (Ian, n.d, para.7).

Despite technology being a component within the society, it is only the society of its origin that determines it. This theory also purports that technology is an aspect of civilization and that it is not also neutral according to the proposition of the instrumentalists and the determinists but has an effect on society (Marcus, 2005, para.15).

How Closure Has Brought About A Determinist Illusion Concerning ICT

Most national governments have adopted the concept that for there to be economic development, it is paramount that there being the incorporation of technology. This is concerning various sectors of their economies. This is evident from a statement by Welsh Assembly which illustrated its strategies related to communication. The statement stated that since most of the economies have adopted the use of technology such as the use of mobile phones and computer networks, it was the only option that was left for Wales. This shows that they had the perception that it is the only technology that was left as the major determinant towards economic development.

Other countries such as Malaysia have also concluded that it would leapfrog towards the path of technology for it to experience growth (Marcus, 2005, para.10).

Computer technology and the concept of socio-technical ensemble

Due to the development in computer technology, it has become possible for mobile computing to be developed. This is one of the aspects of the socio-technical ensemble. This concept has been enhanced due to the increase in mobility especially within the police department (Steve & Andrea, 2006, p.4)

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It has become possible for the police to control the traffic. This is because the police can be able to access information that he requires such as the license and registration number, and other details electronically through the use of the radio call. This shows means that technology is ensembled with society such as in law enforcement.


Technology has the capacity of bringing change into society. This is evident from the fact that technology has been incorporated into various aspects of society. Though various theories have been used to explain the socio-technical ensemble with some of the claiming that technology has no impact on society, it is evident that it does. This is evident from the fact that technology is shaping society on daily basis. Human beings to some degree can control the impact of technology on their lives.


Chapter 10: Communications, technology, and Society: Theory and Practice. Web.

Irene, C. (2001) Social constructivism theories. Web.

Ian, T. (2000) What is wrong with being a technological essentialist? A response to Feenberg. Mexico: University of Mexico. Web.

Marcus, L. (2005).The modal nature of ICT: Challenging historical interpretation of the social understanding and appropriation of ICT. Journal of community informatics, vol. 2, issue 1. Web.

Melissa, N.M (1995) School reform: what role can technology play in the constructivist setting? Montgomery: Montgomery publication. Web.

Paul, F (1995). What is simulation? Web.

Rowland L., Mike G, David S. (2008) Mass Communication in Canada. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rob, K & Christina. (2002) Group behavior and learning in electronic forums: a social-technical approach. Bloomington: Indiana University. Web.

Steve, S. & Andrea, T. (2006) The socio-technical nature of mobile computing work: evidence from a study of policing in the United States. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania. Web.

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