Review Of "Politics And Technology" By J. Street

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Street explores the relationship between technology and democratic politics with admirable lucidity, intelligence, and balance. He criticizes both autonomous technology (J. Ellul, The Technological Society, CH, Nov'64) and technological determinism, for instance, as distortions. This requires him to examine how political choices and structures affect technology and the converse. After looking at the different effects technology can have on politics specifically and culture more generally, Street discusses risk, accountability, technological assessment, questions of control, and how different models of democracy might best address the problems raised. He rejects “Green” politics, for example, as incoherent because it draws an untenable distinction between the natural and the artificial. Simultaneously Street objects to the “technical fix” mentality. Street's own recommendations stem from his conviction that technology and political processes cannot be separated. He advocates a “cultural approach” seeking the integration of political argument and technological assessment. Feminist writings on technology (M. Schwarz and M. Thompson, Divided We Stand, 1990, and Machina Ex Dea, ed. by J. Rothschild, CH, Apr'84) and the work of Langdon Winner (The Whale and the Reactor, CH, Oct'86) exemplify Street's approach. Indeed, Street's book is an excellent introduction for anyone looking for a clear, balanced introduction to a wide range of topics, issues, and authors on politics, technology, and philosophy. It does not delve deeply into specific areas discussed, but its comprehensiveness more than compensates. Highly recommended for general readers and undergraduates.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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