Feelings of Discontent and the Promise of Middle Range Theory for STS | Geels

Frank W. Geels; Feelings of Discontent and the Promise of Middle Range Theory for Science & Technology Studies (STS); In Science, Technology & Human Values, Volume 32, Issue 6; 2007-11-01; DOI:10.1177/016224390303597; 25 pages; paywall
Teaser: Examples from Technology Dynamics

Abstract

This article critically discusses the state of STS, expressing feelings of discontent regarding four aspects: policy relevance, conceptual language, too much focus on complexity, theoretical styles. Middle range theory is proposed as an alternative, promising avenue. Middle range theories focus on delimited topics, make explicit efforts to combine concepts, and search for abstracted patterns and explanatory mechanisms. The article presents achievements in that direction for technology dynamics, particularly with regard to the role of expectations, niche theory and radical innovation, and the multi-level perspective on sociotechnical transitions.

Mentions

  • Middle Range Theory (MRT)
  • Science & Techology Studies (STS)
  • Merton introduced the notion of MRT in sociology in the three editions
    of Social Theory and Social Structure (1949, 1957, 1968).
    e.g.
    Merton, R.K. 1948. Discussion of Parsons’ `The position of sociological theory ‘. American Sociological Review 13(2): 164-168. Google Scholar

Aside

At the paywall, it is unclear who wrote the article.  The paywall declares that it was Frank W. Geels, but provides an “author biography” for Casper Bruun Jensen.

Yup, it is Frank W. Geels. Yet…

Casper Bruun Jensen is
  • Associate professor at the Technologies in Practice group, IT University of Copenhagen.
  • Casper Bruun Jensen, Ontologies for Developing Things (Sense, 2010)
  • Casper Bruun Jensen, Brit Ross Winthereik, Monitoring Movements in Development (MIT, 2013).

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Expectations in Technological Developments: An Example of Prospective Structures to be Filled in by Agency | van Lente, Rip

Harro van Lente, Arie Rip; Expectations in Technological Developments: An Example of Prospective Structures to be Filled in by Agency; 28 pages; ; OAI:oai:doc.utwente.nl:34732; landing, (a photocopy of a paper article) academia.edu, landing as Chapter 7; In Cornelis Disco, Barend vander Meulen, Getting New Technologies Together: Studies in Making Sociotechnical Order; Walter de Gruyter; 1998.

An earlier version of this paper was prepared, submitted, presented at the XXIth (21st?) World Congress of Sociology, ISA, Bielefield, DE, 1994-07-18.

Mentions

  • Agenda Theory (van Lente 1993)
  • <quote>The study of texts <snip/> in this sense, one can think of technology as a generalized text This is important <snip/> because texts are nothing if not internally coordinated, among other things because of their story-line.</quote>
  • Prospective Structure
  • Structure versus Agency
  • the “script”
  • Expectation (theory)
    <quote>expectations structure activity differently than structures normally do</quote>
  • <quote capitalization=”herein”>Prospective Structure hence has the same power as Forceful Fiction in opening up space for action.</quote>
Branded Theories
  • Functionalism
  • Interactionism
  • van Lente → Agenda Theory (his, theirs)
  • Mead → role-taking
  • Goffman → dramaturgical presentation of self
  • Berger & Luckman → social construction of reality
  • Giddens → structuration theory
  • Burns & Flam → social rule system theory
  • Shibutani → social processes
  • Strauss → social world
  • Boudon → transformation processes

Outline

  • Introduction
  • Technology and the Problem of Structure-Agency in Sociology
  • Some Examples of Emerging Patterns in Technology
    • Example 1: Moore’s Law as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
    • Example 2: The Emerging World of Membrane Technology in The Netherlands.
    • Example 3: HDTV, a Self-Justifying Technology.
  • From Promise to Requirement
  • Mechanisms: Mutual Positioning and Agenda-Building
  • In Conclusion

Actualities