This collection explores why engineering communication constitutes sociotechnical communication. Sociotechnical communication acknowledges that engineering communication occurs not in a vacuum but shapes and is shaped by multiple social forces. Through diverse research cases, the authors show how sociotechnical communication disrupts common myths in engineering communication: the myth that communication can be purely technical and neutral, and that data speak for themselves.
The book highlights these myths, considering first how styles, types, and means of sociotechnical communication played pivotal—and differing—roles in the evolution of wind power technology in Denmark and Germany. The role of myth in engineering blogs is also examined, wherein the effect of engineers maintaining "objective" or "neutral" personae, accentuating technical facts over their social relevance, and eschewing controversy, is to decrease public interest in engineering issues. We see the myths emerge again via product development engineers, whose narrow technical roles constrain their identities and may contribute to constraining their design innovation capacities, in contrast to more holistic, flexible spaces that foster innovation. The myths are also apparent in attempts to facilitate engineering collaboration and knowledge transfer among engineers by bridging the gap between the Millennial-Baby Boomer generational divide.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Engineering Studies.
Table of Contents
1. Sociotechnical communication in engineering: an exploration and unveiling of common myths Jon A. Leydens
2. Winds of change: communication and wind power technology development in Denmark and Germany from 1973 to ca. 1985 Kristian H. Nielsen and Matthias Heymann
3. Professional identity on the Web: Engineering blogs and public engagement April Ann Kedrowicz and Katie Rose Sullivan
4. Analyzing the intersections of institutional and discourse identities in engineering work at the local level Marie C. Paretti and Lisa D. McNair
5. Building bridges – identifying generational communication characteristics to facilitate engineering collaboration and knowledge transfer across field-practicing engineers Mary Pilotte and Demetra Evangelou
Jon A. Leydens is an Associate Professor in the Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies at the Colorado School of Mines, USA, where he has been since 1997. His research and teaching interests include communication, social justice, and engineering education, and he has won several teaching and research awards.