Chapter 2: Theories of Technology

Source: JSTOR, 1998

Technology continues to transform our way of life in rapid ways. Given the intensity and use of information and communication technology, research highlights the importance of focusing on cyber-security where challenges posed by cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism, as well as the possibility of the crime-terror nexus in the cyber-domain is real. In an interconnected world, there is a need to improve regional cyber capabilities, manage and even counter cyberattacks in an arena where cyberspace will be the battlespace of the future.

The theories of technology attempt to address the relationship between technology and society. And since legislation is an essential part of society, especially statehood, theories of technology contain debates on the informal part of societal life (culture and networks), as well as the formal part of societal life (citizenship, legislation and law enforcement). This section will describe these various theories of technology and the application of these theories to security issues will follow from here.

Firstly, we look at actor-network theory (ANT). This theory posits a heterogeneous network of humans and non-humans as equal interrelated actors. It strives for impartiality in the description of human and nonhuman actors and the reintegration of the natural and social worlds. Thus, instead of worrying whether we are anthropomorphizing technology, we should embrace it as inherently anthropomorphic: technology is made by humans, substitutes for the actions of humans, and shapes human action. What are important are the chain and gradients of actors' actions and competences, and the degree to which we choose to have figurative representations. Key concepts include the inscription of beliefs, practices, and relations that embody technology.

Another theory we can consider is the social construction of technology (SCOT) theory. This theory argues that technology does not determine human action, but that human action shapes technology. One of the key concepts of this theory is the idea of "interpretive flexibility". This concept refers to how technological artefacts are culturally constructed and interpreted. In this sense, not only that there is flexibility in how people think of or interpret artefacts but also that there is flexibility in how artefacts are designed. This theory believes that each social group has a particular shared set of meanings about a given artefact. This does not mean that everyone in that group will always agree, or that they will automatically understand what the artefacts mean. There is always a process of deliberation and consensus-building on such meaning, influenced greatly by the wider social, political and economic context within which the group resides.

Source: JSTOR, 2007

Another theory to consider is the structuration theory, which defines structures as rules and resources organised as properties of social systems. The theory does not recognize technology per se as an artefact, rather, it pays particular attention to how people's interaction with technology creates "structures" that suggests norms and practices on how to use said the technology.

Another theory we could consider is the "social presence theory". This theory argues that the social impact of a communication medium depends on the social presence it allows communicators to have. The theory assumes that more contact will increase the key components of "presence": greater intimacy, immediacy, warmth and inter-personal rapport. As a consequence of social presence, social influence is expected to increase. In the case of communication technology, the assumption is that more text-based forms of interaction (e-mail, instant messaging) are less social, and therefore less conducive to social influence.

Activity 3.4


Indonesia’s initial ban of Telegram and WhatsApp had caused an uproar. Discuss the challenges arising from the use of encrypted technology by both terrorist and criminals.

See articles listed in the URLs Below.