What Does Technodeterminism Mean?

Technodeterminism is a reductionist theory created by an American sociologist, Thorstein Veblen, which states that the improvement of society’s cultural values and social structure is driven by the technology it possesses. Technological advancements as a whole have become a key aspect influencing change and history. Other technodeterminists include Clarence Ayes, John Dewey, and William Ogburn.


Technodeterminism is also known as technological determinism.

Techopedia Explains Technodeterminism

Some believe that technology’s strong influence on various aspects of society is mostly based on how much the technology is and can be used. Technodeterminism proponents believe that technology is the foundation of all human activity. The theory has been characterized as a way to identify technological advancements as a prime mover in the processes of social change. According to sociologist Claude Fischer, this theory is a "billiard ball" approach in which technology is portrayed as the external force that causes a succession of ricochet effects.

Technological determinism is viewed and categorized as hard determinism and soft determinism.

  • Hard Determinism: Technology is viewed strictly as a powerful and influential force acting to control social activity. Society organizes itself in order to meet the needs of technology, the result of which is beyond society’s control.
  • Soft Determinism: Technology is viewed as a guiding force that helps in society’s evolution, but people still have a chance to make decisions based on the outcome.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…