Author (Your Name)

Caitlin Dufraine, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Science, Technology and Society Program


James R. Fleming

Second Advisor

Mannel Gimond


I explore how scholars are beginning to understand the social and historical implications of the introduction, development, and increasingly widespread use of GIS. This paper uses an STS framework to evaluate both literature from the early 1990s and more recent literature that examines the influence and social implications of GIS. I provide context for my discussion of the social implications of GIS by commenting on the merits and shortcomings of theoretical frameworks that scholars have used to evaluate the influence of GIS on society. To gain a holistic appreciation of issues surrounding the role of GIS in society I have reviewed literature published from a variety of disciplines that apply positivist, technological determinism, constructivism, deconstruction, and media studies conceptualizations of GIS. Using the concerns presented in the literature and drawing upon my own personal experience as a user of the technology, I identify other influences, uses and misuses of GIS that are currently not adequately addressed. I also address why remaining open to new ways of conceptualizing GIS and mitigating the effect of common social misuses and misconceptions is paramount.


Geographical Information Systems (GIS)