Research Paper on Technological Theories

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  856 Words
Date:  2022-05-12


Technology refers to the application of scientific knowledge in t undertaking of an activity. The two main theories of technology are the instrumental theory and the substantive theory (Veak, 2012). The instrumental theory brings out the most acceptable view of technology. It emphasizes the sense that technologies are tools that should always be ready to meet the needs of those using them. Technology is considered neutral and without any particular value attached to it (Feenberg, 2012). Instrumental theory brings out technology as neither good nor bad and as such can be utilized by any specific social or political groups, organizations, or individuals to yield the desired outcomes. The theory brings out technology as an entity that can be applied in diverse situations (Feenberg, 2012). The instrumental theory attempts to bring out the aspect that technology brings out as much as is invested in it.

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Exceptions regarding the use of technology in instrumentalist approach can only be limited by moral or ethical standards. However, the theory is based on the understanding that the price of high ethical, environmental, religious, or political goals is a reduction in efficiency (Veak, 2012). An example of the instrumental theory of technology is where nuclear power and atomic bombs are produced as just tools to change the life of humanity without considering whether the energy or the weapons are built on moral grounds or purposes (Veak, 2012). This is accentuated by the fact that instrumentalism views technology as a tool that is neutral but does not necessarily examine other impacts of the devices whether social, cultural or political. For instance, those who use technology to manufacture weapons are only concerned with making money out of it or even getting a higher economic power using it as a tool to obtain their needs and wants (Veak, 2012). However, the social, political, or cultural impacts of manufacturing weapons are not considered.

The substantive theory, on the other hand, explains that technology is made up of a cultural system that is new and that restructures the social globe as an object of control. The theory tries to drive home the point that human beings are continuously involved in the world's transformation (Summers, 2013). The substantive approach advocates that human beings are raw materials that are used up in the process of transforming the world (Feenberg, 2012). The theory stands for the view that technology does not necessarily revolve around making machines or technological equipment but rather on the human role to choose what machines and equipment to make (Feenberg, 2012). It also puts it upon the human race to be responsible for how they use technological equipment and tools that they have chosen to make after various considerations.

The substantive technological theory asserts that technology is not just a means to attain specific goals but is more of the environment and a part of life. Even when its supporters acknowledge the significance and neutrality of basic machines, it is essential that more emphasis is laid on all human activities that surround such equipment (Summers, 2013). These focuses are critical and include the practical uses of the devices and what they symbolize (Veak, 2012). The substantive approach of technology portrays technology not just as something categorized differently but instead as part of life.

The technocratic view of life lays more emphasis on a view of progress that is not ambiguous and is geared towards solving problems through given values (Feenberg, 2012). The substantive approach is based on the belief that actual laws and procedures are to be followed to achieve specific noble goals. The substantive theorists believe that technological advancement should be guided and based on processes and set rules that would incorporate humans in the technological advancement (Feenberg, 2012). For instance, workers or staff members may view technology or a technological advancement as something that would change the manner in which the normal functioning of their organization or culture would be altered.

The instrumentalism theory of technology is more widely accepted due to some reasons. Some of the reasons why the approach is widely preferred to substantive theory include the use of inductive methods, grants self-will to scientists, and enables individuals to follow their attitudes and interests. It ensures that people utilize the available resources to carry out tasks and make the best they can out their situations and environment.


The theory agrees with the information provided in religious books and sources as well as the majority of the scholars. The truths found in the theory and its applicability in real life situations make it more reliable and acceptable (Summers, 2013). Unlike the substantive theory that puts protocols, procedures, and formulas, the approach is easy to integrate into practice (Feenberg, 2012). Most scholars including the writer agree with this theory due to its versatility and applicability in various life situations. This accounts for the reason why it has been widely accepted. The aspect of neutrality that instrumentalism brings forth is what makes most individuals take and embrace it.


Feenberg, A. (2012). Questioning technology. Abingdon-on-Thames, UK: Routledge.

Summers, R. (2013). Essays in legal theory (Vol. 46). New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.

Veak, T. J. (Ed.). (2012). Democratizing technology: Andrew Feenberg's critical theory of technology. New York, NY: SUNY Press.

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