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From Autonomous to Socially Conceived Technology

Toward a Causal, Intentional and Systematic Analysis of Interests and Elites in Public Technology Policy

Gunnar K.A. Njálsson

When administrative scientists look to the current scholarship surrounding the phenomenon of technological development, they will inevitably be forced to grapple not only with an entire battery of abstract theories portraying technological development as more or less socially determined or autonomous. These policy analysts will also be obliged to struggle with the daunting task of developing a coherent, causal, subject-oriented and systematic framework for describing, comparing and even creating public technology policies. Understanding the spectrum of theories available when examining public information technology policy development (hereafter IT-policy) from an administrative sciences perspective, including how these theories relate to each other and differ in nature, is paramount to any attempt to formulate such a systematic framework regarding the subject. Indeed, it is crucial in order to defend one’s choice of methodology.

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Brian Wemp

The Grands Magasins Dufayel, a huge department store built on the northern fringe of late nineteenth-century Paris, had an important cultural influence on the city's working class. In a neighborhood with few public spaces, it provided a consumer version of the public square. It encouraged workers to approach shopping as a social activity, just as the bourgeoisie did at the famous department stores in central Paris. Like the bourgeois stores, it helped transform consumption from a personal transaction between customer and merchant into an unmediated relationship between consumer and goods. Through advertising the store portrayed itself as a space where the working-class visitor could participate in new and exciting forms of entertainment and technology. Its unique instore cinema and exhibits of inventions like X-ray machines and the gramophone created a new kind of urban space that celebrated the close relationship between technology and consumer culture.

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Johannes Fedderke

The resurgence of interest in the determinants of economic growth through the vehicle of endogenous growth theory has brought with it new understanding of what underlies long term economic prosperity. In particular, the role of human capital as an important driver of technological change, and hence development, has emerged as a key factor.

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Digital Peacekeepers, Drone Surveillance and Information Fusion

A Philosophical Analysis of New Peacekeeping

Lisa Portmess and Bassam Romaya

In June 2014 an Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping was commissioned to examine how technology and innovation could strengthen peacekeeping missions. The panel's report argues for wider deployment of advanced technologies, including greater use of ground and airborne sensors and other technical sources of data, advanced data analytics and information fusion to assist in data integration. This article explores the emerging intelligence-led, informationist conception of UN peacekeeping against the backdrop of increasingly complex peacekeeping mandates and precarious security conditions. New peacekeeping with its heightened commitment to information as a political resource and the endorsement of offensive military action within robust mandates reflects the multiple and conflicting trajectories generated by asymmetric conflicts, the responsibility to protect and a technology-driven information revolution. We argue that the idea of peacekeeping is being revised (and has been revised) by realities beyond peacekeeping itself that require rethinking the morality of peacekeeping in light of the emergence of 'digital peacekeeping' and the knowledge revolution engendered by new technologies.

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Michael Jackson

Globalism makes news every day, yet world trade is hardly greater today than 30 years ago; it is the movement of capital that is far greater now, thanks to technology. The irresistible force for one world is not the United Nations, ever an arena for the contest of national interests, but money, particularly the United States dollar, which is an unofficial world currency, often with more influence than U.S. foreign policy. One of the results of monetary globalism is to make national reserve and international banks all the more important.

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Throwing the Genes

A Renewed Biological Imaginary of 'Race', Place and Identification

Zimitri Erasmus

In the United States of America, use of DNA samples in criminal investigation and of genetic ancestry tests in 'personalised medicine', 'pharmacogenetics' and for personal consumption has grown exponentially. Moreover, use of such technologies is visible in the public sphere. In South Africa, DNA sampling for ancestry testing is the most publicly visible application of these technologies. This work has shifted constructions of 'KhoiSan' communities from yesterday's 'missing evolutionary link' to today's 'Edenic origin of humankind'. I question human biogenetics as a home for meanings of history, humanity and belonging. To this end, I read selected genetic genealogical studies of communities considered 'KhoiSan', 'Coloured' and 'Lemba' in South Africa against concerns raised in recent literature about the use of such studies in the United States of America. I ask why bio-centric conceptions of 'race', identity and 'the human' remain so resilient. To grapple with this question, I draw on Sylvia Wynter's (2001; 2003) adaptation of Frantz Fanon's (1986) concept of 'sociogeny' into 'the sociogenic principle'. I close by suggesting the code for what it means to be human is best located in the 'word' rather than the human genome.

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Capital Flows Through Language

Market English, Biopower, and the World Bank

J. Paul Narkunas

In 1997, the World Bank Group1 published in English one of its many country studies, entitled Vietnam: Education Financing. Its goal was to measure ‘what changes in educational policies will ensure that students who pass through the system today will acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for Vietnam to complete the transition successfully from a planned to a market economy’(World Bank 1997: xiii). Skills, knowledge, and attitude designate the successfully ‘educated’ Vietnamese national subjects for the bank. The educational ‘system’ performs, therefore, a disciplinary function by using the technologies of the nation state to cultivate productive humans—measured by technical expertise and computer and business skills—for transnational companies who do business in the region.

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Brett Bowles

The politics of French and German cinema between the onset of the Great Depression and the end of World War II is far from a new topic of study. However, scholars have typically focused on one country or the other, rather than comparing the two, and prioritized high-profile directors (for example, Jean Renoir, Jean-Paul Le Chanois, Leni Riefenstahl, and Veit Harlan) whose work benefited from direct party sponsorship and served a clearly propagandistic function. Reflecting the evolution of cultural history and film studies over the past decade, this collection of essays seeks to enrich the traditional approach in three ways. The first is by expanding the definition of politics beyond official party or state discourse to include power-related issues such as representation of gender and gender roles; access to material resources including funding and technology; relationships between film creators and industry or government officials; and competition between commercial and ideological priorities in film production, censorship, and distribution.

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Of Traiteurs and Tsars

Potel et Chabot and the Franco-Russian Alliance

Willa Z. Silverman

Between 1893 and 1901, the Parisian traiteur Potel et Chabot catered a series of gala meals celebrating the recent Franco-Russian alliance, which was heralded in France as ending its diplomatic isolation following the Franco-Prussian War. The firm was well adapted to the particularities of the unlikely alliance between Tsarist Russia and republican France. On the one hand, it represented a tradition of French luxury production, including haute cuisine, that the Third Republic was eager to promote. On the other, echoing the Republic’s championing of scientific and technological progress, it relied on innovative transportation and food conservation technologies, which it deployed spectacularly during a 1900 banquet for over twenty-two thousand French mayors, a modern “mega-event.” Culinary discourse therefore signaled, and palliated concerns about, the improbable nature of the alliance at the same time as it revealed important changes taking place in the catering profession.

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Martin Carnoy

Few dispute the notion that the rapid development of industrialising economies in Asia and Latin America, new information technologies, liberalisation of trade, and global financial markets have contributed to the emergence of a truly global economy in the past ten years. Neither do they dispute that national economies almost everywhere in the world have become increasingly less ‘national’. Most countries’ foreign trade has increased, and in many, foreign investment and payment on foreign debt have become more prevalent than in the past. Labour movements also appear to be increasing, especially the movement of highly skilled labour. But does this mean that nation-states have decreased influence over the definition of economic and social life? Does globalisation imply the demise of the nation-state?