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Abstract

This paper aims to show how the design, production and stabilization of a given artifact could be socially constructed. Grounded in Science and Technology Studies (STS), the perspective dubbed as “social construction of technology” (SCOT) provides us with analytical tools such as “relevant social groups,” “stabilization,” “interpretive flexibility of meaning” and “disturbance.” On the basis of these analytical tools, this study tries to show the condition in which Finchaa Sugar Factory’s ethanol-kerosene blend (‘K-50’) was to reach the stage of stabilization. More particularly, the study focuses on the “disturbance” – this is a technical word in SCOT – that the media staged and, as a result, nearly knocked K-50 out of market. The principal value of this study lies in bringing together engineering knowledge and the social sciences in the Ethiopian context. The study could somehow be taken as experimental in that it helps us to see the interface between the two areas – an interface which is given little or no consideration among either social scientists or technologists in many ‘developing’ countries.

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