E-Transformation of Societies

E-Transformation of Societies

Lech W. Zacher (Leon Kozminski Academy of Entrepreneurship and Management, Poland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-947-2.ch272
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Not all transformations of societies are caused by technology or are technology-driven. However, it is evident that technology is an important driving force of societal changes. To state that technology— both contemporarily and historically—largely shapes the form of societies does not necessarily mean the acceptance of technological determinism (as the philosophical approach). It can be viewed just as a statement concerning the hard facts. In the 20th century the rapid development of technology marked a new era. In order to describe and interpret this situation several new terms have been coined, as well as concepts and theories. Usually they underline the revolutionary character of technological change. In 1939, Bernal coined the term “scientific and technological revolution”, which meant the joint effects of revolutions in science and in technology and their feedbacks. More than two decades later Kuhn (1962) developed and popularized his paradigmatic view of science and its revolutionary breakthroughs. It is needless to add that there are close—and to great extent causal—relations between science and technology. As a result of thinking in terms of scientific and technological revolutions or paradigms there was a tendency to use them in the theory of social change. In the late 1960s and 1970s some attempts were made within the Marxist theoretical orientation (Feenberg, 1991) to create an overarching theory of scientific and technological revolution including social change (e.g., Richta—see Zacher, 1995). Western theoreticians, having more experience with high tech and its practical impacts, were describing them using somewhat different nomenclature Ackoff (1974), Brzezinski (1970), and Masuda (1981) preferred cybernetic revolution, the Age of Systems, the Information Era, the Technetronic Era, the electronics revolution (also called the microelectronics or microprocessor revolution), the computer revolution, the information revolution, and the like (Friedrichs & Schaff, 1982; Forester, 1984). With reference to science and technology such terms as materials revolution and biological (or biotechnological) revolution were also in use. Somewhat later a new term arrived, Internet revolution.

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