Self-referential Technology and the Growth of Information: From Techniques to Technology to the Technology of Technology

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This article attempts to make a point for the necessity of dealing with technology itself as a field for sociological research. Up until now, technology has mostly been observed as a non-social artefact and, as a consequence, has been of social scientific interest only in terms of its impact on modern society. This conventional view is based on the Cartesian subject/object dichotomy taking the form of society/technology. Contemporary technological developments, however, defy this social science approach from being applicable. Technology is on the verge of completing operational closure, re-entry, and, hence, turning self-referential. A system theoretical perspective on technology as functioning simplification and containment may be a viable starting point towards a more abstract but also more accurate concept of technology. In the final chapters, the work of Kallinikos on information growth and his attempt to observe technology as a systemic and paradox concept are being introduced. The paper offers a reconceptualization of technology based on three building blocks: 1) an operational rather than an »artifactual« definition of technology, 2) a historical development of differentiation of the technological domain, and 3) the closure of technology through re-entry as 2nd order technology
Original languageEnglish
JournalSoziale Systeme: Zeitschrift für soziologische Theorie
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)138-159
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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