Technology, translation and society: A constructivist, critical theory approach

Maeve Olohan

Translation studies and social theories of translation tend not to deal adequately with questions regarding the role of technology in translation and have neglected the ways in which technologies, as non-human entities, embody and materialize hegemonic and power relations. This paper seeks to address this shortcoming by looking to science and technology studies (STS) for conceptual frameworks to help us to understand and articulate (a) how popular, deterministic perceptions of translation technology are perpetuated through the discourses of hegemonic actors, (b) how decisions regarding design and use of translation technologies may be studied with reference to their construction and interpretation by relevant social groups, and (c) how a critical theory of technology and an analytical focus on practices can help to focus our attention on the exercise of hegemonic control in the translation sector.

Table of contents

The starting point for this paper is that we still have much work to do to fully understand the ontological and epistemological bases of the impact of ideology and power on translation theory and practice. This paper, informed by schools of thought and research that converge within the discipline known as science and technology studies (STS), makes a contribution on both fronts by examining theoretical and conceptual frameworks for the social study of technology and power in translation.

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