The Primary Purpose of the Passage is to – - English Language


Read the following passage carefully and then answer the question that follows.

Surajendu Kumar’s study on the effect of the modernization of a Government Printing Press on Press maintenance work and workers is a solid contribution to a debate that encompasses two lively issues in the history and sociology of technology: technological determinism and social constructivism.

Kumar makes the point that the characteristics of a technology have a decisive influence on job skills and work organization. Put more strongly, technology can be a primary determinant of social and managerial organization. Kumar believes this possibility has been obscured by the recent sociological fashion, exemplified by Cravman’s analysis, that emphasizes the way machinery reflects social choices. For Cravman, the shape of a technological system is subordinate to the manager’s desire to wrest control of the labor process from the workers. Technological change is construed as the outcome of negotiations among interested parties who seek to incorporate their own interests into the design and configuration of the machinery. This position represents the new mainstream called social constructivism. The constructivists gain acceptance by misrepresenting technological determinism: technological determinists are supposed to believe, for example, that machinery imposes appropriate forms of order on society. The alternative to constructivism, in other words, is to view technology as existing outside society, capable of directly influencing skills and work organization. Kumar refutes the extremes of the constructivists by both theoretical and empirical arguments. Theoretically, he defines “technology” in terms of relationship between social and technical variables. Attempts to reduce the meaning of technology to cold, hard metal are bound to fail, for machinery is just scrap unless it is organized functionally and supported by appropriate systems of operation and maintenance. At the empirical level, Kumar shows how a change at the Printing Press from maintenance-intensive electromechanical devices to semi-electronic devices altered work tasks, skills, training opportunities, administration, and organization of workers. Some changes Kumar attributes to the particular way management and labor unions negotiated the introduction of the technology, whereas others are seen as arising from the capabilities and nature of the technology itself. Thus, Kumar helps answer the question: “When is social choice decisive and when are concrete characteristics of technology more important ?”

The primary purpose of the passage is to –


  • challenge the position of advocates of technological determinism.

  • consider a successful challenge to the constructivist view of technological change

  • suggest that the social causes of technological change should be studied in real situations.

  • advocate a more positive attitude towards technological change.



consider a successful challenge to the constructivist view of technological change


The passage introduces Kumar’s study as “a solid contribution” to the debate between technological determinists and social constructivists. Technological determinists believe that features of technology determine the organizational structure. Social constructivists believe that technology reflects social choices. Constructivists misrepresent determinist theory to make it seem implausible. Kumar “refutes  the extremes of the constructivists…” So, Kumar challenges constructionist views, showing examples of both theories in his analysis.   
(a) The passage describes Kumar’s view as a successful challenge to social constructivism, not technological determinism.   
(b) The passage is mainly concerned with portraying  Kumar’s view as a successful challenge to constructivism.   
(c) The passage does not suggest any context in which technological change ought to be studied.   
(d) There is no mention of the merits of technological change in the passage. Rather, the passage is concerned only with the role of technological change in society.   
Therefore, 'consider a successful challenge to the constructivist view of technological change' is the apt answer. 

Concept: Comprehension Passages (Entrance Exams)
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