Print page

Understanding Technological Innovation

A Socio-Technical Approach Patrice Flichy, Professor, Department of Sociology (LATTS), University of Paris-Est, France
How do the social sciences address the question of innovation and the relationship between technology and use? This is the core point of this book which examines critically diverse works, in sociology, history, economics and anthropology, in order to formulate a new approach. This reflection is essentially of a general nature, though the cases used to illustrate the analysis are drawn primarily from the field of ICT. Patrice Flichy studies how the socio-technological actions of the different actors, particularly designers and users, are organized within the same frames of reference. He also introduces a new element into the model by demonstrating how time is involved in technological choices.
Extent: 208 pp
Hardback Price: $127.00 Web: $114.30
Publication Date: 2008
ISBN: 978 1 84720 391 5
Availability: In Stock
$0.00

Buy the E-Book @ paperback price

Join our mailing list

How do the social sciences address the question of innovation and the relationship between technology and use? This is the core point of this book which examines critically diverse works, in sociology, history, economics and anthropology, in order to formulate a new approach. This reflection is essentially of a general nature, though the cases used to illustrate the analysis are drawn primarily from the field of ICT. Patrice Flichy studies how the socio-technological actions of the different actors, particularly designers and users, are organized within the same frames of reference. He also introduces a new element into the model by demonstrating how time is involved in technological choices.

Understanding Technological Innovation will be essential reading for advanced teaching and research training in the fields of science and technology studies, and media and communication studies.
‘Researchers and students in the management of innovation will find in this book an analytical framework that articulates technological innovation processes and the creation of new markets. The multiplication of examples and cases helps the reader in better grasping the different aspects of the proposed framework. The focus on information and communication technologies is of high relevance: it enables the reader to put present developments in perspective, and this is especially relevant when discussing ascending innovation and the role of users and uses.’
– Philippe Laredo, Universities of Paris-Est and Manchester, Coordinator of the European PRIME Network of Excellence

‘Patrice Flichy takes the reader on a fascinating tour of the literature on technological innovation. Innovation is situated within the frames of functioning and use, offering rich insights into the strategies, tactics, improvisations and learning which occur through time. He emphasises the dreams and musings of inventors, novelists and the popular media to show how they mediate new technological frames of reference. This book offers an excellent synthesis of the literature and an original historical account of innovation with special reference to information and communication technologies.’
– Robin Mansell, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

‘In Understanding Technological Innovation, Patrice Flichy’s interest is in the genesis of technology. He describes the perspectives and interpretive schemes deployed by historians, sociologists and economists in attempts to understand the determinants, including chance, of the particular forms of products and systems that have come to dominate the market and play so important a role – some would claim dominant – in our lives. It is rare to find in one volume so informed a critique of the essential writings of historians of technology, contemporary sociologists and economic historians. His own special interest lies in the development of information technology and he puts his expertise to good use in revealing and contrasting the different perspectives and claims of these three schools.’
– Louis L. Bucciarelli, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US

‘Working at the interface between interactionist sociology, history and economics, Flichy provides us with a language for charting the evolution of new technologies, as generic technical capabilities are explored, perhaps inspired by visions of societal change, and become stabilised and attached to particular conceptions of use. He offers us an integrated perspective on technological innovation, addressing the influence of history and social context whilst remaining open to the often unanticipated dynamism and surprises that may surround both these trajectories. This book will provide a thoughtful contribution to current debates. The critical literature review will provide a rich and convenient source for advanced teaching and research training.’
– Robin Williams, The University of Edinburgh, UK
Contents: Preface Part I: Standard Theories 1. From No Technology to All Technology 2. Technological Determinism – Social Determinism Part II: A Socio-Technical Approach 3. The Anthropology of Technology: Thinking the Technological and the Social Together 4. Socio-Technical Action and Frame of Reference Part III: Socio-Technical History 5. The Time of Technology 6. Technological Imaginaire 7. The Birth of Socio-Technical Frames Conclusion Bibliography Index