Kline And Pinch Analysis

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A Comparison on Different Views on the Role of the Automobile in American Society.

The automobile is arguably one of the most important technologies that has directly influenced American society. In the historical paper, ‘Users as Agents of Technological Change: The Social Construction of the Automobile in the Rural United States’, Kline and Pinch argue how American society shaped the “car culture” from the perspective of social construct. Kline and Pinch use the interpretative use of the automobile and gender roles in supporting their argument. In contrast, in the historical paper “Three Stages of American Automobile Consciousness”, Flink argues how the automobile impacted American society through the perspective of technological determinism. He believes that through 3 main stages, automobiles have shifted from being idolized to being seen as a social problem. Both points of view argue for the importance of the automobile in history but have different views as to how it influenced society.

The first point that Kline and Pinch make to support their argument is how the automobile became popular and how it was used by farmers. When the automobile started becoming cheap and reliable, it began becoming popular in farms for multiple uses. “As early as 1903, farm families started to define the car as more than a transportation device. In particular, they saw it as a general source of power.”1 The power of the automobile was used for farm work such as the grinder, saw and pump.2 On the other hand,
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The main difference between both views is of technological determinism vs. social construct. Flink’s arguments are convincing whereas Kline and Pinch’s argument of gender roles is hard to clearly distinguish if it really supports the mindset of social