History 398 - Fall 2005

Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspectives

Third Essay - Final Exercise

Write an essay of about 2000 words on ONE of the following questions. Your answer should reflect your knowledge of the readings and lectures through the choice of appropriate examples to document and illustrate your argument. The essay is due by 3:00 PM, 23 January, in your preceptor's box in the History Office, 129 Dickinson Hall. Extensions may be granted only by an appropriate Dean or Director of Studies.  Be sure you sign the correct pledge as given below. Your signature affixed to this pledge attests that you have read and understand the provisions set forth in Academic Integrity at Princeton.  


In "Do Artifacts Have Politics?", Langdon Winner proposes several models of the ways in which technologies shape or reflect the politics of their societies.  How do those models help to analyze the politics of the automobile in Robert and Helen Lynd's Middletown and the politics of the Internet in Lawrence Lessig's Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace?  Be sure to use specific examples taken from both books.


Although gender has not been an explicit theme of the course, the lectures, readings, and precept discussions have repeatedly touched on the quite different ways in which men and women experience technology and technological change.  To the extent that technological artifacts and systems embody political arrangements, they cannot help but reflect or even shape relations of gender in society.  Using specific examples taken from different portions of the course, discuss this proposition critically.   How does Lessig contribute to our understanding of the issue in Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace?


Using Lessig's Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace together with the lectures and readings, address Langdon Winner's comment in testimony before a Congressional committee in April 2003 that "The acceptance of any technology requires the building of a broad social coalition that agrees to support its introduction and use." ( Be sure to root your discussion in specific examples taken from several different periods covered by the course.


Karl Marx's analysis of industrial society singles out three factors of production: labor, land, and capital. Yet, in the twentieth century industrial development has increasingly depended on management, which one may perhaps consider a fourth factor of production, at least equally as important as the others. Discuss the emergence and development of management with specific reference to Charles Babbage, Frederick W. Taylor and Henry Ford. In what ways and to what effect has that history been reflected in recent efforts to manage the production of large-scale software systems and in the issues raised by Lessig in Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace?  


"This paper represents my own work in accordance with University regulations."