Building on the influential book The Social Construction of Technological Systems, Shaping Technology/Building Society carries forward the project of creating a theory of technological development and implementation that is strongly grounded in both sociology and history. The twelve essays address the central question of how technologies become stabilized, that is, how they attain a final form and use that is generally accepted.
The first part of the book examines and criticizes the idea that technologies have common life cycles. The second part looks at broader interactions shaping technology and its social context. The last part offers theoretical studies suggesting alternative approaches to sociotechnologies. Each part contains case studies, examples of which include a successful but never produced British jet fighter, the manipulation of patents by a French R&D company to gain a market foothold, and the managed development of high- intensity fluorescent lighting.