Ecological Techne: Craft, Knowledge & Technology in Sustainable Community Developments. A Sociology of Technology Approach to Sustainable Development

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences


This research aims to bring a Sociology of Technology focus to sustainable development. A view persists that technology is objective and separate from human beings, in the same way nature has been conceptualised historically as separate. Human evolution has been an exogenetic one however, with tools and our material environment integral to our development from the very beginning (Medawar 1975). Thus, the relationship between humans and technology is essential to be explored sociologically and brings new light to sustainable development efforts. Achieving sustainability is conceived, across disciplines, as a pressing issue with the threat of extensive resource depletion and the loss of biodiversity (Baker 2016). The idea that technological development presupposes sustainability dominates, with research and investment often lying in technological innovation and left to the physical sciences alone. Blame is often placed in technology itself but technology must be understood as a product of social values, structures and practices (Baker 2016, Bijker 1995; 2006; 2007, Winner 1986). Effectively implementing sustainability is only possible when knowledge is shared by the users of technology and creators, between communities and wider governmental authorities and when social and cultural values match the goals of a sustainable development agenda (Guy and Shove 2000, Shove 2003 Fischer 2000, Baker 2016).
Key questions:
How does technology help realise or work against sustainability?
How are social and cultural values expressed in material arrangements?
How does knowledge and understanding relate to an 'interpretive flexibility' (Collins 1981, Pinch and Bijker 1986) of technology?


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1947180 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 16/02/2023 Willow Leonard-Clarke