The Problem of Technological Determinism

Technological determinism had been declared dead in the 1980s, only to rise up again a little later. Up to today, it remains a constant threat to accurate conceptual thinking and theoretical framing for all scholars interested in studying technology in the light of its cultural, social, ethical, and political character. In a survey of the debate from the late 1970s to the early 1990s (to be published soon) Suzana Alpsancar can show that the so-called technological determinism was made-up as an academic opponent against who the new field of technology studies found its legitimization. A central misconception here was to depict technological determinism as a theoretical position – one reason why it persists until today.

From here, Suzana Alpsancar proposes to reconsider what is at stake in the debate: First, the conceptual flatness lies in the notion of technology, not in the idea of a determinism which is not a theoretical, but a practical – and that is political – problem. Second, because of its practical-political character it calls for different coping mechanism. Technological determinism might be challenged and conquered if we engage in a richer understanding of technology and if we engage in those kind of political practices that allow alternative technical cultures and implementations of new features to be imagined, articulated, represented in public.

This project is conducted by Suzana Alpsancar.


The Laustizblog (Lusatia Blog) was initiated by a group of social science and cultural studies scholars that convened for the first time in May 2018 in a network meeting on issues in transformation research. The Lausitzblog wants to contribute to an exchange between Lusatia researchers in the field of social and cultural studies and seeks to foster knoweldge transfer towards civil society.


“Nanotechnology Capacity Building NGOs” was a FP6 Science and Society project, running from 2006 to 2009. 15 partners from all over Europe participated to bring forward an exchange and structured communication mainly between environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), trade unions, and academic researchers. Schwarz was a member of the team Technical University Darmstadt being responsible for ethical issues. Part of the deliverables was an Ethics Portfolio, Schwarz published together with the coordinator Pieter Broekhuizen an article on “European trade union and environmental NGO positions in the debate on nanotechnologies”.

► Publication in the catalogue of the BTU library

Körper, Leibideen und politische Gemeinschaft

Mario Marino (ed.). 2020. Körper, Leibideen und politische Gemeinschaft. „Rasse“ und Rassismus aus der Sicht der Philosophischen Anthropologie. Series: Philosophische Anthropologie Themen und Positionen, Vol. 10, edited by Joachim Fischer, Ada Neschke, Gérard Raulet, Hans Rainer Sepp.
Verlag Traugott Bautz.

► Find this publication in the BTU library

BTU News 52

Alpsancar, Suzana. 2018. ‘Die Ethik der künstlichen Intelligenz’.
BTU News 52: 12-13.

► Find this publication in the BTU library

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