Technological Determinism vs. Social Shaping of Technology. The influence of activity trackers on user’s attitudes

Iulia Ruxandra ȚICĂU, Shahrazad HADAD


Technology and its influence upon society have turned into a controversial topic in today’s fast-developing world, where advances in innovation are continuous, fast, and complex. The relationship between technology and society has become an increasing interest for many researchers, trying to explore and clarify this connection. This article focuses on the psychological impact of technology, expressed through activity tracking devices, upon user’s attitudes towards pursuing an active lifestyle. To conduct the analysis, users ’ registered behavioral changes after engaging with technological devices are explored, by examining academic literature reports studies, supplemented by experimental material written by the users themselves on publicly available websites. The study proposes a deductive research design, by constructing its analysis on a relevant theoretical framework, that of Technological Determinism theory, which advocates that technology can influence society, however without being affected by humans. Nevertheless, the results of the research show that the relationship between technology and society is not that linear, as influences coming from the social environment usually interact and impact the way technology is used. This determines the consideration of an additional theoretical concept to the analysis, that of Social Shaping of Technology, and changes the dynamics of exploring the topic. Conclusions demonstrate that the relationship between user and technology can be characterized as a double-way approach,  with complex and ambiguous attributes, where both forces interact and can lead to positive and constructive behavioral outcomes but also to critical and hard to control mental conditions.

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