Technological and Social Determinisms

Technology has affected society, economics, politics and the government in how they perform on a daily basis; mostly cyberspace has affected how all four function. According to Andre Feenberg, technology has been overshadowing political democracy due to the various stakeholders such as corporate, military, some physicians as well as engineer professionals due to seeing the various changes and yearns of urban growth, the expansion of transportation systems as well as innovations and how they effect the experiences along with needs of various clientele in different institutions (1992). This has resulted in concern as well as criticisms and doubts about democratic governments.

The philosopher, John Stuart Mills, has pushed the term of libertarian for which there are arguments government that it threats liberty of citizen’s as well as their freedom. Additionally, liberty will be threatened by government through “…stigma and intolerance as by the threat of state punishment…” as well as when the private and public sector are in confliction (Lessig, 2006, p. 120). This has allowed there to be several enemies to liberty and citizens such as the public and private sector. Now, with the rise and evolution of technology, it has allowed for so many grey zones for which cyberspace is now becoming a new enemy forefront, especially since this is a relatively new academic research field. This has led to some sort of social cyberspace that affects four main areas of regulation of citizen’s everyday activity. The first is what laws are implemented by the government(s) upon people for them to or not to do anything while the second is norms that are of a social construct for which activities or behaviors are liked by majority of society (Lessig, 2006). The third regulation is the market which can produce a price structure that can allow for access, as an example due to lower economic classes of people may not be able to buy certain products while the fourth regulation is that architecture of cyberspace which is the actual software and hardware that allow for some constraints the behaviour of people whether it is a password, having an actual computer or programs within at home or is it at some other places (Lessig, 2006).

As stated, there are theories that question government in today’s society due to technology. One is that of democratic theory in the sense that technology is engulfing governments for the sake of infrastructure, transportation, homes and more for citizens. Its issue, is that “…modern technology is incompatible with workplace democracy…[and it]… cannot reasonably press for reforms that would destroy the economic foundations of society.” (Feenberg, 1992, p. 302). Also, it is viewed that democratic theory is not the problem with the growth technology is not the issue of industrial power, yet, it is seen that technology is progressing more within a government with authoritarian power (Feenberg, 1992). Then there is technological determinism for which technologies are giving autonomous logic that influences social impacts while the institutions are viewed as universal and planetary (Feenberg, 1992). For social determinism, there is constructivism in which technology is not just a science, but, social. It brings help to workers to resolve problems and to make work easier, but, the issue is the number of people needed within a workplace due to the change of technology (Feenberg, 1992). The issue with the two is the price tag as seen with green technology or helping the environment.



Feenberg, A. (1992). Subverse Rationalization: Technology, Power and Democracy. Inquiry, vol35, pp. 301 – 22. Retrieved from:

Lessig, L. (2006). Code. Version 2. New York: Basic Books. Chapter 7, what things Regulate, Pp. 120 – 137].


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