Ülevaade suurte tehnoloogiliste süsteemide teooriast



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Large Technological Systems (LTS) is an approach in Science and Technology Studies that examines large infrastructural systems (“seamless webs” of technical and social components) and the concepts related to changes in these systems. In my bachelor’s thesis, I aim to give a comprehensive overview of the ideas related to the theory of LTS and the criticism it has encountered. The thesis includes an overview of the terminology and concepts of LTS (mostly coined by Thomas P. Hughes). I further describe the patterns of evolution of large technological systems: 1) invention and development; 2) innovation, growth and competition; 3) consolidation and rationalization. I elaborate on some of the key concepts in the development of the systems, such as technological momentum and reverse salient. In the critical part of the thesis I claim the biggest threats to the theory of LTS to be the absence of terminological consensus, the lack of users’ point of view in the analysis and the theory bias towards the earlier, growth stages of a system’s development. I suggest that while the terminology issues may not halt the development of LTS theory completely, the addressing of these issues still has the potential to stimulate further steps. Including users in the analysis would allow for closer investigation of the values that may contribute to the mass of a system’s technological momentum. Removing the system growth bias would position LTS as a unique approach in describing the internal dynamics of a system during its complete lifecycle. I also make a case for applying LTS in media studies. To illustrate this, I draft a possible application by using LTS terminology and concepts to describe the conflict between print media and online media. As a result, I find LTS to be an appropriate tool for analysing the interaction of social and technological components in media systems and providing a supplemental point of view.