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A Critique of China's Utilitarian View of Science and Technology

Shen, X   Williams, R

Science Technology & Society   10 (2) 197-223

January 2005

http://sts.sagepub.com/content/10/2/197.short

Abstract

Technology studies in the West, including the specific case explored here of the ‘social shaping of technology’ (SST) perspective, has been patterned by the particular historical circumstances in which it emerged, in terms of both contemporary political concerns about the socio–economic implications of technological change, and the respective strengths and traditions of the various academic disciplines that contributed to this new field. This article points to the fundamental weaknesses in China's approach to technology development—the ‘utilitarian’ view of technology. Three key manifestations are that: (a) technology has been treated as merely a ‘tool’, detached from its social and political context; (b) technology is treated as a finished solution, diverting attention from the necessary processes of technological learning from advanced economies; and (c) a narrow focus is adopted of technical specialism in science and engineering at the expense of social, policy and managerial expertise, often associated with an elitist approach to technology development.