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Session 18. Scoping Your Final Paper Topic & Argument (revisiting Heilbroner’s ‘Soft Determinism’) Outlining Exercise. ScopING your TOPIC + argument. Revisiting Heilbroner ’s “Soft Determinism”. Do Machines Make History?.

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session 18

Session 18

Scoping Your Final Paper Topic & Argument (revisiting Heilbroner’s ‘Soft Determinism’)

Outlining Exercise

scoping your topic argument
ScopING your TOPIC + argument

Revisiting Heilbroner’s “Soft Determinism”

do machines make history
Do Machines Make History?
  • “that machines make history in some sense—that the level of technology has a direct bearing on the human drama—is of course obvious” [….BUT…..]
  • How to “say something systematic” and “order the problem so that it becomes intellectually manageable” [SCOPE THE CLAIM IN ORDER TO MAKE IT MORE CREDIBLE]
heilbroner scope
Heilbroner - Scope
  • Possibilities for examining this claim that machines make history:
    • The political course of history – i.e. technologies of war
    • The social attitude underlying history – i.e. effects of radio or TV
    • The content of life – its texture and substance as connected to tech order
    • “the effect of technology in determining the nature of the socioeconomic order” – specifically “technologies of production” (i.e the hand mill, steam mill)
heilbroner argument
Heilbroner - Argument
  • Initial Claim – there is a fixed sequence to technological development
    • Evidence: innovations happen at the same time (without connection btwn)
    • Evidence: inventions are evolutionary (no sudden leaps)
    • Evidence: we seem to know what is coming next (general predictions)
heilbroner argument1
Heilbroner - Argument
  • Initial Claim – there is a fixed sequence to technological development
    • Evidence: innovations happen at the same time (without connection btwn)
    • Evidence: inventions are evolutionary (no sudden leaps)
    • Evidence: we seem to know what is coming next (general predictions)
heilbroner more scoping
Heilbroner – More Scoping
  • Initial Claim – the impact on “society” is on “relationships of production”
    • Specifically – composition of the labor force (skilled vs. unskilled, at home vs. at factory site)
    • Specifically – orders of supervision and coordination (men-manager confrontations, industrial managers)
heilbroner qualifications
Heilbroner - Qualifications
  • Heilbroner makes clear his case is one of a SOFT Determinism
    • Qualification 1: there is a social element in the design of technology – “the machine will reflect…the social relationships of work”
    • Qualification 2: technological progress is a social activity that not all societies puruse
    • Qualification 3: the course of tech advance is responsive to social directions
    • Qualification 4: tech change must be compatible with existing social conditions
heilbroner problem space
Heilbroner – Problem Space?
  • Not entirely clear.
  • Perhaps – the very question of scoping and arguing this claim “do machines make history?”
    • “to see if there is an empirical content—in the idea of technological determinism…”
    • “see if we can place the salvageable elements of the theory in historical perspective—”
  • What do we mean by problem space?
slide10

Topic: anonymity

  • Problem space:
    • How does anonymity either foster or inhibit community building?
    • How is ‘community’ possible given extreme full anonymity?
      • Case: 4chan
    • What do we gain or lose from different forms of anonymity or pseudonymity in online spaces?
      • Case: 4chan
      • Case: World of Warcraft