Langdon Winner, in his article Do artifacts have politics? analyzed howtechnology is closely related to politics, and more importantly how the contextin which the technology is exposed defines its impact. He argues thattechnology regulates certain social foundations because it is inherentlypolitical; that is, various technologies are democratic, while others by their nature,are authoritarian. Specifically, they may have specific social outcomes thatcan be qualified in political terms regardless of the purpose behind their creation.Thus, concluding that artifacts have political qualities and can be judged in theways they represent power and authority. It is good to note that all thetechnologies mentioned in the article are substantial infrastructures, asopposed to small devices or portable gadgets.
Therefore, this takes away thegreat impact on individual living conditions and puts it all in politicalarguments. Winner’s most debated example is the series of overpasses of thebridges built around Long Island in the 1930s. According to Winner,these bridges gained a political effect because of their low overpasses whichrestrain the traffic of busses or oversized vehicles, hence only allowing privatelyowned vehicles to access public parks and beaches. Presumably, to prevent lowincome crowds and minorities from easily accessing the areas of middle andupper classes. He depicts this by saying that in Long Island “many of hismonumental structures of concrete and steel embody a systematic socialinequality, a way of engineering relationships among people that, after a time,becomes just another part of the landscape”.
This is an illustration of a technologicaldesign that suggested a political agenda. Winner goes on to comparenuclear power to solar energy and the need for centralized systems. He assertsthat in order to accept nuclear power, one must also accept the industrial militaryauthority as a means for control. Contrarily, solar energy seems to accomplish tasksmore effectively under a democratic order. After reading this article one canconclude that technological systems have reformed the exercise of power.However, science and technology remain best assurances of democracy and social justice,because it is people who impose their particular politics on artifacts. Technologicalpolitics draw attention to the characteristics of technical objects. For instance,the design of spikes under bridges of metropolitan areas, as well as the dividingarmrests in public benches; both intended to drive away the homeless populationthat roams these areas and maintain a neat environment.
Considering theconsequences of technology is essential, as new technologies are designed,these should be introduced in ways that will advance, rather than hinder socialvalues.