Cultural constructs of technology: a different paradigm for technological literacy
conference contributionposted on 05.05.2006 by Paul Jones
Any type of content contributed to an academic conference, such as papers, presentations, lectures or proceedings.
Culture is the "...conventional patterns of thought, activity and artefact that are passed on from generation to generation in a manner generally assumed to involve learning..." (Brown, 1991) Current frameworks for describing the processes of technology tend to be from the viewpoint of a 'technologist'. Within these frameworks, the philosophy that underpins the analysis of technology derives from the sciences and engineering. Technological criteria are used to question and judge the role of technology in human affairs. Views today on what it means to be 'technologically literate' rest on such technical frameworks. A major drawback is the emphasis placed on the distinctions between society and technology; representations do not necessarily show what influences the 'effect' of technology on the society in which it is situated. We need to look behind the 'processes' which drive technological innovation, accumulation, diffusion and adjustment in a society. This paper outlines an ethnographic study currently looking at how culture and personality affect cognition and values in the way certain social groups construct their interpretation of technology. The implications of these findings for educating for technological literacy will be discussed.
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