University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Society and Technological Control: An Argument Against Progress in the Study of Ancient Ceramic Technology.

Loney, Helen L. ORCID: (2000) Society and Technological Control: An Argument Against Progress in the Study of Ancient Ceramic Technology. American Antiquity, 65 (4). pp. 646-668. ISSN 0002-7316

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The use of evolution as either analogy or theory in ceramic change artificially imposes a view of technology which is directed. The use of progress has led to a tendency to equate technological change with technological improvement, as if change were unidirectional. This improvement is usually measured by modern standards of industrialization, such as increasing standardization, increasing speed of production, increasing quantity of production and the overall increasing formality of the workshop. Within models which employ an evolutionary paradigm there is the implicit notion that a) technology change when it occurs, only occurs towards improvement (Myers 1989; Rice 1981); b) improvement occurs towards the most logical, efficient solution to a technological problem (Kingery 1984:171); c) such a solution is rooted in fundamental scientific ‘truths’ or ‘facts’, which scientists or technicians ‘discover’ (Bloor 1973 in Pinch and Bijker 1987:18). Over the past twenty years, social scientists studying the development of modern technology and society have questioned the usefulness of evolution as a model for change (Barnes 1982 in Pinch and Bijker 1987:21; Hughes 1987:56-57; Laudan 1984:10; Pinch and Bijker 1987:22-23). A critical appraisal of technologically determinist history of scientific discovery has found that important discoveries are frequently credited with fundamentally changing the course of history (Smith and Marx 1994). However, the evidence of modern history and ethnography shows that cultural values and embedded beliefs may be more powerful in selecting and directing developing technologies than any external factors (Latour and Woolgar 1986; Miller and Tilley 1984, Miller 1994; Thomas 1991). European archaeologists van der Leeuw, Petréquin and Loney, among others, are now applying the findings of the techno-sociologists to the development of ancient pottery production (van der Leeuw 1984, 1993; Petréquin 1993; Loney 1995, 1997, 2000). Their perspective on ancient technology takes into account personal choice as well as ecological resources and economic organization. The approach of European archaeologists permits the investigation of the varied trajectories of ancient ceramic technology without resorting to self-perpetuating, internally self generating models of biological evolution.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: technology, ceramics, ceramic technology, technological change, ancient pottery production, archaeology, evolution
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
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Depositing User: Helen L Loney
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2008 13:47
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2020 04:00

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