chapter  4
23 Pages

Language and the Social Construction of Artefacts

WithMark Coeckelbergh

“Construction” is stronger than “declaration:” here, the ontology of the artefact becomes more social than in Searle, in the sense that it already becomes less easy to isolate the artefact from the social. While it is not denied that the artefact has a material and physical nature, the artefact itself is understood as the outcome of a social process. In 1984, Pinch and Bijker published a seminal article on ‘the social construction of facts and artefacts’ in which they argued for a research program that understands technological artefacts as social constructs. In their work, the authors seek to explain the success of an artefact. From a Wittgensteinian angle, one could say that artefacts are already social and meaningful through their use and their embeddedness in a form of life, “before” there is a particular social-institutional process, with its explicit controversies about the meaning and design of the technologies and with its meaning-giving by particular groups.