SO471 Half Unit
Technology, Power and Culture
This information is for the 2021/22 session.
Prof Judy Wajcman STC S203
This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Media and Communications (Data and Society), MSc in Political Sociology and MSc in Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Places are allocated based on a written statement, with priority given to students on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Media and Communications (Data and Society), MSc in Political Sociology and MSc in Sociology. As demand is typically high, this may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course.
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.
This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours in the MT.
Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in MT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.
Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.
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)
Take-home assessment (100%) in January.
Course selection videos
Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.
Total students 2020/21: 22
Average class size 2020/21: 11
Controlled access 2020/21: Yes
Value: Half Unit
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving