Write an 1,050- to 1,400-Word Essay on Technology and Social Change, Covering the Following: Provide an Introduction That Defines Both Technology and Social Change and Discusses How They Are Related.Discuss the Impact

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From Technology and Social Change, 1987, edited by H. Russell Bernard and Pertti J. Pelto. 2nd ed.Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press. Pp. 359–368.



H. Russell Bernard and Pertti J. Pelto

In putting together this collection of papers we have become aware of two things. First, each of the cases is historically unique and interesting – they can all stand on their own without need for further interpretation. Second, these cases contain important clues and guidelines which point to a more general theory of technology and sociocultural change. They do not go far enough to allow us to frame up such a theory, but they provide the inductive impetus for relating these examples to the wider system of theory building in anthropology. In the first edition of this book we were not yet ready to elaborate even the outlines of such a theory, but the ensuing 15 years have given us plenty of new materials, as well as general growth in various aspects of theoretical social science. We can now offer a theoretical synthesis, and show how this synthesis can lead directly to the testing of specific hypotheses. That technology is a key element in all human affairs, and especially in sociocultural change, has long been central to anthropological thinking (Barnett, 1953; Foster, 1973; Steward, 1956; White, 1959). Yet, after several collections of case materials on social change (Spicer, 1952; Paul, 1955; Niehoff, 1966; and the earlier edition of this book), and various other forays into the role of technology (for example, the growing number of studies of hydroelectric projects by applied researchers), we anthropologists have not put forth an explicit theoretical system. In part this reflects a continuing hesitation among social scientists to recognize in theoretical terms the ways that machines and other things…...

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