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Rethinking the Social Construction of Technology Through 'Following the Actors': A Reappraisal of Technological Frames

Christina Prell Not available for reviewing until Oct 2010
Sociological Research Online 14 (2) 4

Abstract: In this paper, I summarize case study research on an information system called Connected Kids. This case study was guided by an approach to technology studies called the 'Social construction of technology' or SCOT Bijker (1984). In discussing Connected Kids, I illustrate many of SCOT's main tenents, e.g. the various social interactions that surround and influence technology design. As the paper progresses, however, I focus on one concept in particular, i.e. SCOT's notion of a 'technological frame,' which is used as a catch-all concept for handling the structural influences in technology design. My discussion and illustration of this concept shows that – whilst technological frames help an analyst understand, in general terms, the role structure(s) play in shaping technology – the 'heterogeneity' of technological frames can cloak the more obvious, and potentially most influential, forces at work in technology design. In the case of Connected kids, the role of resources, and which actors had access to these resources, was critical in pointing Connected Kids down a particular trajectory. Further, this discovery emerged from listening carefully to respondents' comments on the role of resources in their community. These comments, and my own observations on how resource-access propelled certain actors into a leadership position, led to my developing an alternative method for analyzing technological frames. The implications of this analysis are then discussed within the context of SCOT and technology studies more generally.