Theorizing Modernity and Technology [chapter]

2002 Modernity and Technology  
Technology made modernity possible. It has been the engine of modernity, shaping it and propelling it forward. The Renaissance was made possible by major fourteenth-and fifteenth-century inventions like the mechanical clock, the full-rigged ship, fixed-viewpoint perspective, global maps, and the printing press. The emergence of industrial society in the eighteenth century was the result of an industrial revolution that was made possible by technological innovations in metallurgy, chemical
more » ... logy, and mechanical engineering. The recent emergence of an information society is also the product of a largely technological revolution, in information technology. Technology has catalyzed the transition to modernity and catalyzed major transitions within it. More than that, technologies are and continue to be an integral part of the infrastructure of modernity, being deeply implicated in its institutions, organizing and reorganizing the industrial system of production, the capitalist economic system, surveillance and military power; and shaping cultural symbols, categories, and practices (see Lyon and Edwards, chapters 6 and 7 in this volume). If modernity is shaped by technology, then the converse also holds: technology is a creation of modernity. The common wisdom of technology studies, that technology is socially shaped or even socially constructed, that it is "society made durable," implies that a full understanding of modern technology and its evolution requires a conception of modernity within which modern technology can be explained as one of its products. If this holds for technology at large, it certainly
doi:10.7551/mitpress/4729.003.0005 fatcat:5pd6kezoibdhpfykkrv43ht27i