Technology and Applied Science: Two Approaches to the Study of Technological Change

When it comes to business and the economy, technology is king. Not only does technology directly affect business decisions and the economy, but technology drives social decision-making and societal capital. Technology in society and business therefore drives technology. In this article we will discuss the relationship between technology and aluminum.

Technological systems are those which enable us to do what humans were able to do in the not-so-distant past. Technological systems are not timeless but are necessarily developing and changing, much like biological organisms. In fact, the definition of technology in this article is an evolving concept. It would not be considered a technological system if it was static, since it is constantly changing and evolving with changing environments and social scientists’ theories on social organization and group dynamics.

The early inhabitants of the Earth were highly complex, because they could not have developed complex technological innovations without the help of their technological advances. And humans in the Stone Age were even less complex than complex humans of today. Nevertheless, humans managed to produce complex tools and implements, such that they may well have been the first real culture on earth. Thus, although humans existed for thousands of years without any visible culture before the beginning of the twentieth century, we can take some comfort in our idea that they were technologically advanced enough to produce such diverse forms of culture as we know them today.

The cultural approach considers human societies as being composed of complex interactions within a single structure. The theory says that one can speak of culture when one speaks of technological innovations. Cultural change is thus considered a measure of technological change. By contrast, the analytical category limits technological change to the effect of technological innovations have on the extent of customization possible for a given product within the given environment. This way, technological change is considered as a feature of the product, rather than a defining element of the product itself.

The analytical category does, however, admit instances where people’s desires and need have been generalized beyond their individual contexts. Such instances would, for example, constitute “a desire to modify things, which alters specific goods produced by techne.” In this way, the technological categories provide a much wider definition than the strictly linguistic one. In addition, the category does not restrict technological change to human societies or to technology per se. The analysis also extends to all parts of the world, as there are technological innovations occurring in all parts of the world.

The systematic treatment does not limit technological terminology to the scope of products as such. It extends further to the scope of human actions. Thus, it could be called a technological framework theory of culture. It suggests that the technological innovations we refer to as techne have certain underlying properties, for which the explanations can be sought in psychology, sociology, economics, and other theories of mind and society. For instance, technology may be defined as a system through which people gain access to multiple, varied, yet non-exclusive forms of information and social interaction.

The second analytical category is the value complex. According to this view, the value is not determined by the possession of technological innovations but by the ability of people to distinguish and establish the worth of different technological innovations. The value complex also applies to technologically superior goods. This includes both analog and digital technologies.

These two ideas about the nature of technology, according to twentieth century thinker like Schatzberg, are not mutually exclusive ones. Neither is the twenty-first century a sterile past, far from the age of sciences and technology. Rather, both ideas are highly relevant to the understanding of how we live in the twenty-first century. In fact, they form the very core of the twentieth century applied science and technology, and Schatzberg’s and Parkes’s (eds) concept of technological change is the most comprehensive and helpful discussion of the impact of the twentieth century on the field.