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Society and Technology

Course Code: SOCI 2290
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Sociology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course examines the impact of technology on the social relations of people in contemporary industrial societies. It investigates the social bases of technological innovation and examines the forces associated with the institutionalized uses of technology, as well as the consequences of those uses. Critical evaluation of a range of important questions and issues will be undertaken in relation to the social uses and impacts of technology at micro- (e.g., experiential, identity, subjective interpretation) and macro- (e.g., workplace, institutional, economic) sociological levels.

Course Content

  1. Introduction: Overview of "Technology" and Technological Change
    • Orienting Concepts and Definitions of Technology
    • The Differential Consequences of Technological Change
    • The Limits of Technology
  2. Critical Perspectives: Theoretical Approaches
    • Marx's Theory of Technology
    • The Ogburn Generation
    • Recent Theoretical Approaches
  3. Processes of Technological Change
    • Sources of Technological Change
    • Inventors, Inventions
    • Invention as Social Process
  4. Science, Technology, and Sponsorship
    • Interrelationship of Science and Technology
    • Sponsors and Social Supports for Technology
  5. Diffusion of Technology
    • Diffusion of Innovation
    • Economic Incentives of Diffusion
    • Adaptation and Adoption
    • Adapting and Tinkering
  6. Technology's Impacts on Health and Environment
    • Technology, Energy and Environment
    • Dilemmas of Medical and Biological Technologies
    • Technological Accidents
  7. Technology and the Changing Workplace
    • Points of Comparison:  Work in Nonindustrial Societies
    • Technology's Impact on Work and its Organization in Industrial Societies
    • Changes in Occupation With Increase Technological Innovations
  8. Communications Technology
    • New Information Technologies as Mechanisms of Social Control
    • No Sense of Place:  Revolutionizing Communication and Social Interaction
    • Typographic Culture:  Effects of "Print" on Society
    • Electronic Media's Social Impacts: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
    • New Communications Technologies:
    • The Distancing Effects of Technology
  9. Weapons and the Conduct of War
    • Technological Development and Use
    • Technology's Effects on Institutionalized Conflict: Tactical and Strategic Incentives of
    • Social Structure and the Development of Military Technologies
    • Controlling Proliferation of New Weapons?
  10. Shaping, Controlling, and Assessing Technology
    • Technological Determinism
    • Experts and Expertise
    • Technology Assessment
    • Technology and its Creators
  11. Organizations and Technological Change
    • Technology as Cause and Consequence of Organizational Structure
    • Interorganizational Relations and Technological Development
    • Entrepreneurs and Organization
  12. Government and the Control of Technology
    • Government Actions and the Shaping of Technology
    • Guiding Technological Development
    • Democratic Control of Technology
    • Future Challenges

Methods of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:  lectures, audio visual materials (including overheads, films), small group discussions, oral presentations (discussion seminars), and specialist guest speakers.

Means of Assessment

Course evaluation is based on formative and summative elements and is in accord with the Douglas College student evaluation policy.  Specific components of evaluation will include some of the following:  two exams made up of shot answer and short essay questions; an essay assignment; oral presentation; and participation in class discussions, student presentations, and group discussions.  Students will complete a research project where the aim is to describe and critically evaluate a specific technology topic.  Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester and will vary according to the instructor's assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.

An example of one evaluation scheme:

Mid-term exam  25%
Essay/written assignment        25%
Essay/Outline   5%
Final exam  25%
Participation  20%
Total 100%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Critically assess the major perspectives and theories employed to describe and analyze technology.
  2. Apply the sociological perspectives discussed in the course to specific issues and problems having to do with contemporary uses of technology.
  3. Identify the main social forces that help to bring about technological developments.
  4. Identify the political, economic military communicative, and other consequences of technologies and their uses.
  5. Describe and critically assess the intended and unintended consequences of institutionalized uses of technology.
  6. Describe the chief benefits and drawbacks of changes in technology as these affect different social domains, especially the contemporary workplace communications practices, and strategies of social control.
  7. Describe how institutionalized uses of technology impact on individual identity and subjective experience.
  8. Apply the sociological perspectives (previewed in the course) to critically analyze a contemporary or historical case of technology use.

course prerequisites

SOCI 1125 or SOCI 1145 or SOCI 1155 or OLD SOCI 135

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.