Category:P2P Technology Theory

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How to think about the relation between technological and social change, specifically from the point of view of a 'peer to peer transition' ?


Thinking about the role of technology and social change

An introduction to competing philosophical schools by Pieter Lemmens:

"In the philosophy of technology one distinguishes roughly between two opposing views about the relationship between technology and society: on the one hand technological determinism, the thesis that it is technology and technological change which determines the structure of society and/or culture, and on the other hand social or cultural determinism, the thesis that it is society and/or culture that determines the shape and character of technologies and technological change. This last view, which is held by the many Latour- and Callon-inspired social-constructivists in the Netherlands, is also referred to as the ‘social shaping of technology’ thesis. The first view is held for instance by Jacques Ellul but is also attributed sometimes to Marx.

Another broad opposition is that between the so-called autonomy theory of technology (also known as technological substantivism), and the instrumentalist view of technology. The first holds to the idea that technology and technological change have a logic of their own and are outside of human control and decision, the second claims that technology is a neutral means used by autonomously acting human beings for a variety of ends, to which technologies are indifferent. This view is also sometimes referred to as the humanist view. Substantivism is most often associated with Heidegger and Ellul, whereas liberal conceptions of technology are generally perceived as being instrumental and typically subscribing to social and/or economic determinism." (

Key Resources

Key Books

  • as recommended by Venkatesch Rao: "The Lever of Riches by Joel Mokyr, probably the most compelling model and account of how technological change drives the evolution of civilizations, through monotonic, path-dependent accumulation of changes."

Key Thinkers