Technology and social reality

Research paper by David Dickson

Indexed on: 01 Jan '75Published on: 01 Jan '75Published in: Dialectical anthropology


My purpose in discussing the social function of technology has not been so much to provide an explanation for a particular state of affairs as to describe the legitimation that a dominant social class attempts — not always successfully, one should add — to place on that set of affairs. In no way therefore does it lead directly to a recipe for an adequate political practice that would alter such a situation. Yet it does provide some indications of various aspects required by such a practice. In particular, it points to the need to challenge technological innovation directly on political grounds, as part of an overall struggle for emancipation from the exploitative system which technology maintains under industrial capitalism. Furthermore, it indicates that what is experienced as oppression by technology is in fact the articulation of political repression experienced through technology. The nature of technological innovation as a political process means that those who in our society control the process of innovation are able to use this control to strengthen their position, a situation in which scientists and technologists become direct accomplices. Once this has been realized, it will be seen that political struggle belongs as much to the laboratory bench as it does to the factory floor and indeed to all other areas of everyday activity.