On Theory and Discourse Analysis

…all discourse about technology contains implicit theories about what technology is, what it does, and the kinds of relationships that people can have to it. These theories are critical in determining a program of action vis-a-vis technology for literacy studies: They determine what technological problems people identify, the roles they see for themselves in addressing these problems, and the methods they bring to bear upon the problems.  If these implicit theories advance the culturally dominant instrumental view of technology (i.e., that technology is either autonomous and all-powerful, or neutral and unproblematic), then little space is left in which to conduct scholarly inquiry about technology because technology is either a force outside human control, or it is a moot point.  Similarly, such an instrumental view discourages or even prohibits scholars and teachers of literacy from having a voice in the development or application of literacy tools.

If literacy scholars are to pursue the Technology Question, make decisions about pedagogical uses of technology, and take an active role in technological development, it is essential that we examine the underlying theories of technology that are a powerful (if unarticulated) force shaping attitudes and actions toward technology.

Christina Haas, “Constructing Technology Through Discourse” (chapter 7 in Writing Technology, 1996)


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