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Technology and Social Agency: Outlining a Practice Framework for Archaeology

ISBN: 978-1-57718-123-1
316 pages
June 2000, Wiley-Blackwell
Technology and Social Agency: Outlining a Practice Framework for Archaeology (1577181239) cover image


The book presents a new conceptual framework and a set of research principles with which to study and interpret technology from a phenomenological perspective.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures.




1. Of Black Boxes and Matters Material: The State of Things.

2. Deconstructing the Black Box: Some Philosophical and Historical Reflections on the Logos Tekhne.

3. Prying Open the Black Box: Philosophical Insights on Technology and Being.

4. A Synoptic Approach to Technology: Conceptual Contours of a Practice Framework.

5. Social Agency and Practice: The Heart and Soul of Technology.

6. Engendering the Chaine Operatoire: Methodological Issues.

7. A Future for Technology's Pasts.




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Author Information

Marcia-Anne Dobres received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and is currently teaching at the University of South Carolina. Her research focuses on Palaeolithic and contemporary hunter-gatherers, technology, social agency, and gender, as well as prehistoric art and symbolism. She has ongoing research projects in France and South Africa. She is senior editor of The Social Dynamics of Technology: Practice, Politics, and World Views (1999) and Agency in Archaeology (ed. with Robb, 2000).
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The Wiley Advantage

  • Examines technology from a social, cultural and phenomenological perspective.

  • Presents a new conceptual and methodological framework for studying technology.
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"Technology and Social Agency is the most provocative and significant book on the relationship between the material world and the human condition to appear in anthropology since Leslie A. White's The Evolution of Culture (1959). Unlike its polemic predecessor, however, Technology and Social Agency avoids instrumental determinism and establishes the challenging alternative of technology as a total social fact centered around individual human beings in meaningful communities of cultural practice. In reaffirming the human and social dimensions of all technological practice and technique, Marcia-Anne Dobres establishes instead the role of material items in all social discourse and social reproduction. As a poetic manifesto for technology and human action Technology and Social Agency will be a flash point of intelligent debate of these issues for the next decade, and perhaps beyond." Professor John Edward Clark, Brigham Young University. <!--end-->

"The true value of this book is that it has brought together a wide range of previous work on technolgy. It is a well-referenced discussion of a significant trend in technological studies, an area of study to which Dobres herself has made a major contribution. I hope Dobres will continue to make a significant contribution to these debates." Bill Sillar, University College London, for Antiquity 2003

"I found the book a thorougly researched and well-argued example of an inter-disciplinary approach, bringing together ideas from phenomenological philosphy,the sociology of technology and science and from material culture debates within British and American Anthropology ... a well informed work that is both highly innovative and challenging." Cambridge Anthropology

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