Master of Arts (Hons.)
Department of Science and Technology Studies
Donnelly, Richard W., The politics of technology: a critique of the work of Langdon Winner, Master of Arts (Hons.) thesis, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Wollongong, 1990. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/2233
Numbers of writers have agreed that technology is political, yet in exactly what ways this is to be understood has been the subject of much debate. One author whose work has been influential in this regard is Langdon Winner. In his two books. Autonomous Technology and The Whale and the Reactor, he has argued that profitable insights can be gained by the application of the categories of political philosophy to the study of "technology itself", which, for him, involves understanding technologies as "political phenomena in their own right". In this thesis, I examine this claim and argue that, while Winner's analysis provides perceptive insights into the challenges posed by technology for contemporary politics, his locating of the political in the technology itself has significant conceptual problems. I will suggest that most of the problems in Winner's analysis arise from his inconsistent understanding and use of the concepts, "technology" and "politics". Furthermore, I argue that his failure to draw out the ideological nature of much of the discourse surrounding technological decision-making is a key weakness in his analysis and I suggest how such a perspective would do much to reconcile many of the ambiguities in his argument.