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      Pluto Journals
      technology, technological change, models, regulation, ‘technochoice’ approach


            Despite a dramatic growth in interest in technology over the last two decades, this has not resulted in a clear understanding of either the nature of technological change or the basis for its regulation. Part of the problem is the ambiguous heritage of science, technology and society studies which rose to prominence in the 1970s. This paper seeks to provide a theoretical scheme for categorising the commonly used models of technological change: to outline the limitations of ‘technocratic’ and ‘technophobic’ approaches to technology and social development and argue for the superiority of an explicitly ‘technochoice’ approach; and to discuss the dominant models for the public control of technology.


            Author and article information

            Critical Studies in Innovation
            Pluto Journals
            December 1986
            : 4
            : 2
            : 288-305
            8629021 Prometheus, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1986: pp. 288–305
            Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

            All content is freely available without charge to users or their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission of the publisher or the author. Articles published in the journal are distributed under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

            Page count
            Figures: 0, Tables: 0, References: 33, Pages: 18
            Original Articles

            Computer science,Arts,Social & Behavioral Sciences,Law,History,Economics
            technological change,regulation,models,‘technochoice’ approach,technology


            1. This article is an extended version of a paper presented to the ANZAAS Conference, May 1984 at the Australian National University, Canberra. It is part of a wider project on the major social and political theories of technology, and the political and philosophical implications of radical critiques of technology. For a further discussion and elaboration of the major issues and models, see R. Badham, ‘The sociology of industrial and post-industrial societies’, Current Sociology, 32, 1, 1984; idem, Theories of Industrial Society, Croom Helm, London, 1986; idem, ‘The dangers of technospeak: 1984, Brave New World and approaches to technology’ in 1984 and Social Control, Jura Books, Sydney, 1985; idem, ‘Radical ecology for beginners: the sad case of Andre Gorz and Murray Bookchin’, paper presented to AAHPSSS Conference, University of New South Wales, Sydney, August 1985; Jim Falk, Richard Badham and Greg Smith, Public Accountability and Electricity Planning in Victoria, Victorian Department of Minerals and Energy, Victoria, 1984; and the submissions and oral evidence presented to the Senate Standing Committee on Science, Technology and the Environment by the Centre for Technology and Social Change, University of Wollongong (Senate Standing Commmittee on Science, Technology and the Environment, Hansard, 2 April 1985, Canberra).

            2. See the defence of Illicit by A. Gorz, Farewell to the Working Class, Pluto Press, London, 1982.

            3. Schumacher E. F.. 1974. . Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered . , London : : Abacus. .

            4. Illich I. D.. 1975. . Tools for Conviviality . , Glasgow : : Fontana. .

            5. See Badham, 1984, pp. 69–71.

            6. Kumar K.. 1978. . Prophecy and Progress: The Sociology of Industrial and Post-Industrial Society . , Harmondsworth : : Penguin. .

            7. D. Bell, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, Penguin, Hardmonds worth, 1976 and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, Heinemann, London, 1979; Z. Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technotronic Era, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1977; B. Jones, Sleepers Wake! Technology and The Future of Work, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1982; A. Toffler, Futureshock, Pan, London, 1975; idem, The Third Wave, Pan, London, 1981.

            8. Noble D.. 1984. . Forces of Production . , New York : : Alfred A. Knopf. .

            9. J. Ellul, The Technological Society, Vintage Books, New York, 1964; Mich, op. cit.; T. Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends: Politics and Transcendance in Post-Industrial Society, Faber and Faber, London, 1973; Schumacher, op. cit.

            10. Badham, 1984.

            11. C. Boyle, P. Wheale and B. Sturgess, People, Science and Technology, Harvester, Brighton, 1984; R. Johnston and P. Gummet (eds.), Directing Technology, Croom Helm, London, 1979; E. Mesthene, Technological Change, Mentor, New York, 1970.

            12. Badham in 1984 and Social Control; L. Winner, Autonomous Technology, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1977.

            13. Winner, op. cit.

            14. Wilbert Moore E.. 1967. . Order and Change: Essays in Comparative Sociology . , New York : : Wiley. .

            15. A. Etzioni, The Active Society, Free Press, New York, 1968; G. Price, ‘Political frameworks for the control of technology: an assessment’ in Johnston and Gummet, op. cit.

            16. Johnston and Gummet, op. cit.

            17. For example, Bell, 1976, op. cit.; Kumar, op. cit.

            18. Toffler, 1975, op. cit. and 1981, op. cit.

            19. Jones, op. cit.

            20. B. Fay, Social Theory and Political Practice, Allen & Unwin, London, 1975.

            21. Bell, 1979, op. cit.

            22. Nelkin D.. 1978. . Technological Decisions and Democracy . , Beverley Hills : : Sage. .

            23. Winner, op. cit.

            24. Illich, op. cit.

            25. H. Shaiken, Work Transformed, Holt, Rinehart and Wilson, New York, 1984; H. Schiller, Information and the Crisis Economy, Ablex, New Jersey, 1984; R. Williams, Towards 2000, Heinemann, London, 1983.

            26. T. Bottomore, Elites and Society, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1974; G. Parry, Political Elites, Allen & Unwin, London, 1966.

            27. Badham, 1984, op. cit.

            28. Falk J.. 1982. . Global Fission . , Melbourne : : Oxford University Press. .

            29. Habermas J.. 1976. . Legitimation Crisis . , London : : Heinemann. .

            30. Nelkin, op. cit.

            31. Pateman C.. 1971. . Participation and Democratic Theory . , London : : Edward Arnold. .

            32. D. Dickson, Alternative Technology: The Politics of Technical Change, Fontana/Collins, Glasgow, 1974; idem, The New Politics of Science, Pantheon, New York, 1984.

            33. Department of Science, Draft National Technology Statement, Canberra, 1985.


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