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Title: The social shaping of steamboats
Author: Dolwick, Jim S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2727 5952
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2012
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This dissertation investigates the early evolution of the steamboat in the United States and examines how three inventors-Robert Fulton, Robert R. Livingston, and Colonel John Stevens, III---constructed the first commercially successful steamboats, including the Vermont, the third passenger steamboat built in the US, the earliest surviving example in the archaeological record. Its purpose is to see how the steamboat came to be defined as a distinctive vessel type and to understand how Vermont and other steamboats fit into a historical context of development. In order to do this, it seeks to treat technological development as a social process. The problem is that, historically, the concept 'social' has been narrowly defined, restricted to only certain kinds of elements. Past attempts to understand technological development in 'social' terms have resulted in unconvincing explanations that have excluded 'nature' and reduced the objects of study to mere 'social constructions.' Consequently, the term 'social' now carries with it a number of connotations that are largely negative and unhelpful to archaeological and historical pursuits. The solution that this dissertation seeks to put into practice is to use a more nuanced definition of 'social' by drawing from the insights and sensibilities of Actor- Network Theory (ANT) and adopting its more expansive theoretical position of 'generalized symmetry.'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available