SO471      Half Unit
Technology, Power and Culture

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Judy Wajcman STC S203


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Media and Communications, MSc in Media and Communications (Data and Society), MSc in Political Sociology, MSc in Sociology, MSc in Sociology (Contemporary Social Thought) and MSc in Sociology (Research). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course aims to give students a detailed understanding of sociologically informed approaches to the social studies of science and technology. It will consider how macro theories of post-industrial society (from Bell to Castells) have conceptualised the role of technology in social change. It will then look at the development of STS as a field that highlights the constitutive role of objects and artefacts in social relations. In other words, it will reflect upon sociology’s traditional neglect of the social life of things or materiality. These broad themes will then be elaborated substantively. First, by considering the role of technology in reconfiguring time, space and mobility. Second, by considering power relations and social inequalities embedded in digital technologies, such as the Internet and mobile phones. Third, by treating technology as a culture that shapes gender identities, such as those that find expression in the virtuality of cyberspace. The course will draw on examples from a variety of domains including the environment, the internet, robotics, sex, and weapons.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

Hackett, E. et al (2008) The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (MIT Press)

MacKenzie, D. and Wajcman J. (1999) The Social Shaping of Technology (MIT Press)

Suchman, L. (2007) Human-Machine Configurations (CUP)

Turkle, S. (2011) Alone Together (Basic Books)

Wajcman, J. (2004) TechnoFeminism (Polity Press)

Morozov, E. (2013) To Save Everything, Click Here: Technology, Solutionism and the Urge to Fix Problems That Don't Exist (Allen Lane)


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19.6
Merit 58.7
Pass 21.7
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2015/16: Unavailable

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication