Where Are the Politics? Perspectives on Democracy and Technology

Science, Technology, and Human Values 33 (5):559-581 (2008)
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Abstract

The politics of innovation involves displacements between various interrelated settings ranging from the context of design to the context of use. This variety of settings and their particular qualities raise questions about the democratic implications of displacements, which have been addressed within science and technology studies for decades from different perspectives and along various theoretical strands. This article distinguishes five different traditions of conceptualizing the relation between technological innovation and democracy: an intentionalist, a proceduralist, an actor—network, an interpretivist, and a performative perspective. They differ in their concepts of “technology,” “politics,” and “democracy”; they imply different roles for the analyst and they suggest or urge other political means. It is suggested that spelling out the differences and similarities between the five perspectives creates the possibility to overcome the limitations of any particular perspective of technology and democracy.

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