Technological momentum is a theory about the relationship between
technologyand societyover time. The term was originally developed by the historian of technology Thomas P. Hughes.
Hughes's thesis is a
synthesisof two separate models for how technology and society interact. One, " technological determinism", claims that society itself was modified by the introduction of a new technology in an irreversible and irreparable way—for example, the introduction of the automobilehas influenced the manner in which American cities are designed, a change that can clearly be seen when comparing the pre-automobile cities on the East Coast to the post-automobile cities on the West Coast. Technology, under this model, self-propagates as well—there is no turning back once adoption has taken place, and the very existence of the technology means that it will continue to exist in the future.
The other model, "
social determinism", claims that society itself controls how a technology is used and developed—for example, the rejection of nuclear powertechnology in the USA amid the public fears after the Three Mile Islandincident.
"Technological momentum" takes the two models and adds "time" as the unifying factor. In Hughes's theory, when a technology is young, deliberate control over its use and scope is possible and enacted by society. However as a technology matures, and becomes increasingly enmeshed in the society where it was created, its own deterministic force takes hold. In other words, Hughes's says that the relationship between technology and society always starts with a "social determinism" model, but evolves into a form of "technological determinism" over time and as its use becomes more prevalent and important.
Since its introduction by Hughes, the "technological momentum" concept has been applied by a number of other historians of technology. [See, e.g., "Consuming Power: A Social History of American Energies" (1998) by
David E. Nye; "Technology and War: A Bibliographic Essay" by Alex Roland in "Military Enterprise and Technological Change" (1985), edited by Merritt Roe Smith; and "Nuclear Fallacies: How We Have Been Misguided since Hiroshima" (1985) by Robert W. Malcomson.]
* Thomas P. Hughes, "Technological momentum," in Albert Teich, ed., "Technology and the Future", 8th edn., 2000.
* Thomas Parke Hughes, "Technological Momentum in History: Hydrogenation in Germany 1898-1933", "Past and Present", No. 44 (Aug., 1969), pp. 106-132
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Technological and industrial history of the United States — The technological and industrial history of the United States describes the United States emergence as one of the largest nations in the world as well as the most technologically powerful nation in the world. The availability of land and labor,… … Wikipedia
Momentum exchange tether — Momentum Exchange Tethers is one of many applications for space tethers. This sub set represents an entire area of research using a spinning conductive and/or non conductive tether to throw spacecraft up or down in orbit (like a sling), thereby… … Wikipedia
technology, history of — Introduction the development over time of systematic techniques for making and doing things. The term technology, a combination of the Greek technē, “art, craft,” with logos, “word, speech,” meant in Greece a discourse on the arts, both… … Universalium
Outline of technology — The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to technology: Technology – all tools and procedures. It is the state of knowledge and development at any given time on controlling our surroundings, and includes all tools… … Wikipedia
Topic outline of technology — Technology refers to all tools and procedures. It is the state of knowledge and development at any given time on controlling our surroundings, and includes all tools (utensils, devices, machinery, inventions, and structures), all methods (skills … Wikipedia
Thomas P. Hughes — Thomas Parke Hughes (born in 1929) is an American Historian of Technology. He is an emeritus professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and is a visiting professor at MIT and Stanford. He received his Ph.D. from the University of… … Wikipedia
Thomas P. Hughes — Thomas Parke Hughes (né en 1929) est un historien des technologies américain. Il est actuellement professeur d histoire émérite de l université de Pennsylvanie et professeur invité au MIT et à l université Stanford. Il a obtenu son Ph.D. de l… … Wikipédia en Français
Thomas parke hughes — Thomas P. Hughes Thomas Parke Hughes (né en 1929) est un historien des technologies américain. Il est actuellement professeur d histoire émérite de l université de Pennsylvanie et professeur invité au MIT et à l université Stanford. Il a obtenu… … Wikipédia en Français
Thomas Parke Hughes — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Thomas Hughes. Thomas Parke Hughes (né en 1929) est un historien des technologies américain. Il est actuellement professeur d histoire émérite de l université de Pennsylvanie et professeur invité au MIT et à l… … Wikipédia en Français
international relations — a branch of political science dealing with the relations between nations. [1970 75] * * * Study of the relations of states with each other and with international organizations and certain subnational entities (e.g., bureaucracies and political… … Universalium