The paper illustrates the role of political and social dynamics upon technological change.
Examining dynamics transforming excavation practices on South Africa’s goldmines, it
describes how a technology that opened up a range of social and economic opportunities
became a constraint on those opportunities. This technology’s development and diffusion
thereby established a critical precedent in the spread of racial occupational mobility
restrictions. Collaborative innovation is also a dominant feature in the analysis, highlighting
both its historical importance in South Africa as well as the need for caution in its