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Scientific paper


Theoretical and historical perspectives on technology

Mauro Bonaiuti, Melf-Hinrich Ehlers, Mario Pansera, Pasi Heikkurinen, Lukáš Likavčan

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Scientific paper

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Degrowth Conference Budapest 2016


This is the first of a planned ‘trilogy’ of sessions on the contentious relationship between degrowth and technology. It represents the first of three subthemes of a special issue on degrowth and technology, which is currently being edited for the Journal of Cleaner Production. The aim of this special session is to bring together different theoretical and historical perspectives on technology, technological development and innovation from various academic disciplines (e.g. Philosophy, Political Science, Science and Technology Studies, Innovation Studies, Technology Assessment, Anthropology, History). The contributions shed light on diverse views of how technology comes into play in degrowth contexts. Different theoretical approaches and research methods are deployed to develop and discuss frameworks capturing the role of technology and innovation in a Degrowth society. In particular, theories of democratization of technology are scrutinised with respect to their practical relevance.

The session also presents new ways of seeing innovation and technologies, well-elaborated critiques of mainstream technological optimism and economic efficiency improvements. In addition, it gives insights into other fields and theoretical backgrounds, which do not necessarily engage directly with technology, such as ethics, feminism, critical theory or Marxism, but could provide powerful analytical tools. Contributions focus on technology in general or on specific (controversial) technologies. They also include suggestions on how to deal with unavoidable decisions, like whether or not to apply a controversial, or new and potentially harmful technology.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Theoretical and historical perspectives on technology “ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

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