DOI: 10.1177/s0038038501000219 ISSN:

Technologies, Texts and Affordances

Ian Hutchby
  • Sociology and Political Science

In contrast to recent sociological emphases on the social shaping of technology, this article proposes and illustrates a way of analysing the technological shaping of sociality. Drawing on the concept of affordances (Gibson 1979), the article argues for a recognition of the constraining, as well as enabling, materiality of artefacts. The argument is set in the theoretical context of one of the most recent and comprehensive statements of anti-essentialism (Grint and Woolgar 1997). The position is illustrated through a reinterpretation of some case studies used by proponents of the radical constructivist position.