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Colección: La Educación
Número: (119) III
Año: 1994

10. Judy WAJCMAN. Feminism Confronts Technology. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991, 184 p., notes, illustrations, bibliography, index, contents.

The technological determinism implicit in much of both the sociological and feminist literature on the impact of technology has recently been subjected to criticism. The new sociology of technology has turned the focus around to examine the social factors that shape technological changes. Rather than looking only at the effects of technology on society, it also looks at the effects of society on technology.

This book begins with an overview of feminist theories of science and technology. The first chapter addresses the feminist critics on science which cannot simply be interpreted as a feminist view on technology. Although useful parallels can be drawn, technology needs to be understood as something much more than applied sciences. The following chapters have less abstract focus and are organized around substantive areas of technology. Each chapter begins by focusing on the impact of technological change on sexual divisions and goes on to develop the argument that technology itself is gendered. Chapter 2 assesses the impact of production technologies on sexual divisions in the sphere of paid work. It then explains the extent to which these divisions and gender relations in the workplace profoundly affect the direction and pace of technological change. Chapter 3 explores the arguments, placing them in the wider context of the growing supremacy of technology in Western medicine. Chapter 4 examines this research in conjunction with more mainstream sociological theories regarding the impact of technologies on the “post-industrial” home. Chapter 5 deals with the built environment. The first section considers the design of houses and their urban location. It points out that sexual divisions are literally built into houses and indeed into the whole structure of the urban system. The last section scrutinizes transport technology and demonstrates how women have been particularly handicapped by the design of cities. Finally, chapter 6 presents an analysis of technology as a male culture. In the conclusion, the book convinces the reader that a recognition of the profound gendered character of technology need not lead to political pessimism or total rejection of existing technologies. The argument that women’s relationship to technology is a contradictory one, combined with the idea that technology is itself a social construct, opens up possibilities for feminist scholarship and action.

This book represents an attempt to reach a more coherent approach, bringing together under one theoretical framework a number of different interpretations of technology. This is the most significant contribution of Feminism Confronts Technology.

Mónica G. Luque