The technological determinist view is a technology-led theory of social change: technology is seen as 'the prime mover' in history. In economics, this is known as a 'technology-push' theory rather than a 'demand-pull' theory. According to technological determinists, particular technical developments, communications technologies or media, or, most broadly, technology in general are the sole or prime antecedent causes of changes in society, and technology is seen as the fundamental condition underlying the pattern of social organization.
Technological determinists interpret technology in general and communications technologies in particular as the basis of society in the past, present and even the future. They say that technologies such as writing or print or television or the computer 'changed society'. In its most extreme form, the entire form of society is seen as being determined by technology: new technologies transform society at every level, including institutions, social interaction and individuals. At the least a wide range of social and cultural phenomena are seen as shaped by technology. 'Human factors' and social arrangements are seen as secondary.
Karl Marx is often interpreted as a technological determinist on the basis of such isolated quotations as: 'The windmill gives you society with the feudal lord: the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist' ('The Poverty of Philosophy', 1847), and determinism certainly features in orthodox Marxism. But several apologists have insisted that Marx was not a technological determinist.
Various non-Marxist theorists such as Sigfried Giedion, Leslie White, Lynn White Jr, Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan have adopted the stance of technological determinism. In a reductio ad absurdum, Marshall McLuhan interprets Lynn White's book, Medieval Technology and Social Change as suggesting, in McLuhan's words, that 'such inventions as the horse collar quickly led to the development of the modern world' (McLuhan & Watson 1970, p. 121). Technological determinism is also commonly associated with futuristic commentators regarding what they refer to as 'the microelectronic revolution' (e.g. Large 1980). For instance, Christopher Evans declared that the computer would transform 'world society at all levels' (Evans 1979, cited in Robins & Webster 1989, p. 24).