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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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Introduction

Friends and Family Figures in Contemporary Fiction

Katharine Cockin

During the twentieth century, scientific advances, especially in the field of reproductive technologies, have fundamentally altered ideas about parenting, the family and what it means to be human. In the 1980s, the family became a significant site of political conflict in the UK when family values were defended and so-called pretended families were condemned. New information technologies make it possible for online chat between friends who have never met. Changes in legislation have defined and protected the rights of the child and spectacular campaigns have developed for fathers’ rights. Meanwhile tracing your family history has become one of the most popular hobbies.

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Replication, Regeneration or Organic Birth

The Clone in Deryn Rees-Jones' Quiver and Donna Haraway's 'A Cyborg Manifesto'

Zoë Brigley

Rees-Jones' Quiver and Donna Haraway's 'A Cyborg Manifesto' explore how different mythologies of being can emancipate women from and create a dialogue with ordinary female reproduction. Haraway and Rees-Jones use advances in reproductive and mechanical technologies to imagine new modes of being which are not simply products of the imagination, but a recycling of images and debates of concern to women and feminists. In Test-Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood?, Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein and Shelley Minden ask a pertinent question: '[e]ach time a new technological development is hailed the same question arises: is this liberation or oppression in a new guise?' Both Haraway and Rees-Jones explore the rise of new technologies in relation to gender and maternity and gauge the emancipatory or oppressive possibilities.

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Bodies of Evidence

Feminist Performance Art

Erin Striff

When a woman appears on stage, her body too often speaks for itself. It becomes the object of the gaze, an object of desire. Feminist performance artists attempt to disrupt the cultural associations with the female body. They extend their bodily capabilities through cybernetic technology; they practice body modification; and they enact the abjection of the female body. This article will explore whether or not it is possible for these artists to control the way their bodies are perceived on stage.

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Introduction

Contemporary Fiction

Katharine Cockin

Contemporary fiction has to address all manner of uncertainties. Those brought about by scientific developments and related social changes are possibly most acute in novels which experiment with the new science of cloning and reproductive technologies. Here there is often an explicit exploration of what it means to be human. As Eva Sabine Zehelein’s article shows, the capability of science to replace sexual reproduction is explored as a potentially liberating idea by the scientist-author, Carl Djerassi. His novel provides a means of educating the reader about science as well as providing a testing-ground for the ethical issues which face today’s scientists. Notably it is the long-term effects of scientific inventions in reproductive technologies which require hard thinking today. While these concerns will be considered by scientists and legislators, they are certainly being tested in the relative freedom of the novel. Thus Eva Hoffmann’s The Secret demonstrates that, to some extent, it is the clone who exposes what is taken for granted as human. Susan Stuart illustrates here the critical perspective offered by this novel. Whatever scientific interventions and biological crafting are involved in the creation of new life, the complexity of the decisions and actions of the life created provides a rich source of narrative exploration, especially in the bildungsroman form.

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Eva-Sabine Zehelein

Some fifteen years ago, a distinguished chemistry professor at Stanford University closed his lab in order to write autobiographies, novels and plays. The ‘(god)father of the pill’ (a term he has often criticized) has received numerous scientific prizes and honours. Carl Djerassi is one of the few American scientists to have been awarded both the National Medal of Science (1973) and the National Medal of Technology (1992). He has been called an outstanding scientific hero of the twentieth century, well-situated in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and now even immortalized on an Austrian postal stamp. Djerassi decided to fence off his own personal garden patch on the vast prairies of belles lettres, and to create his own literary genre.

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The Chronopolitical Order of Things

Technologies of the Quantified Self in Andrew Niccol's In Time and Michael Anderson's Logan's Run

Sidneyeve Matrix

As a film about a science fictional future in which genetic engineering is used to guard against the threat of overpopulation, Andrew Niccol's In Time (2011) bears a remarkable resemblance to Michael Anderson's environmental dystopia Logan's Run (1976). This article traces the narrative similarities of these two dystopian ecocinematic Hollywood productions, while demonstrating how they succeed as social critiques of technoscientific social regimes that wreak havoc on the Earth and its inhabitants. Borrowing from Michel Foucault's theories of a biopolitics of the population, this article argues that both film-makers' works contribute to our understanding of the potentially culturally and environmentally devastating implications of genetic engineering. Seen through the lens of Foucault's ideas about the disciplinary technologies of the self-regulated subject, the article suggests that Niccol's In Time is particularly noteworthy for its creative problematizing of the increasing normalization of high-tech bodily modification, enhancement, and digital quantification.

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The Ends of the Earth

Nature, Narrative, and Identity in Dystopian Film

Rowland Hughes

This article offers an ecocritical reading of four dystopian films, two from the early 1970s and two from the late 1990s: Silent Running, Soylent Green, eXistenZ, and Gattaca. In particular, it interprets these films – which variously predict the probable ramifications of environmental catastrophe and biotechnological progress – in relation to contrasting conceptualizations of 'nature' that might broadly be termed either the 'postmodern' or 'ecological'. It argues that despite the genre's apparent preoccupation with technologically advanced, virtual or urban environments, the concept of 'nature' and 'the natural' remains crucial to dystopian cinema's characteristic critique of authoritarian power structures that restrict individual self-expression, and its interrogation of human individuality and selfhood. Moreover, it suggests that even self- consciously postmodern dystopias are rooted in the experience of embodiment, and point towards a reconceptualized idea of 'the natural' that is shaped by, and often fused with, technology.