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The Myths of Technology

Innovation and Inequality


Judith Burnett, Peter Senker and Kathy Walker

This book questions whether technologies are the rational, tangible, scientific, forward-thinking, neutral objects they are so often perceived to be, exploring instead how powerful, mythic ideas about technologies drive our social understanding and our expectations of them. Against a rising tide of information, we encounter significant technological, scientific, and medical advances which promise to create an educated, humane, and equal world. This book explores that promise, deconstructing technologies to conclude that though they do afford us significant and empowering advances, they remain largely cloaked in mystery, and often promise more than they can deliver. Contributors from diverse intellectual backgrounds and political and epistemological stances – spanning sociology and psychosocial investigations, innovation studies, and scientists – combine philosophical inquiry and empirical case studies to create a book which is at once provocative, innovative, and exciting in the challenges it poses.
Contents: Wiebe E. Bijker: Foreword – Judith Burnett/Peter Senker/Kathy Walker: Introduction – Alvaro de Miranda: Technological Determinism and Ideology: Questioning the ‘Information Society’ and the ‘Digital Divide’ – Richard Sharpe: Inequalities in the Globalised Knowledge-Based Economy – Bernard Kahane: Old Wine in New Bottles: How New Technology Recycles Old Myths – Richard Sharpe: Brains, Generations and One Last Push: Myths Used to Establish and Sustain the Computer Industry – Linda Stepulevage: ERP in Higher Education: The Reinforcement of Myths – Kathy Walker: Reality Check: Interactivity, Reality Television and Empowerment – Delia Langstone: Myths, Crimes and Videotape – Erika Cudworth: Nature, Culture, Technology: Myths and Inequalities in the Posthuman Zoo – Mark Davis/Paul Flowers: Myth and HIV Medical Technologies: Perspectives from the ‘Transitions in HIV’ Project – Paul Nightingale/Paul Martin: The Myth of the Biotech Revolution – Peter Senker/Joanna Chataway: The Myths of Agricultural Biotechnology – Judith Burnett/Peter Senker/Kathy Walker: Epilogue.