Despite current doubts about its misuse, technology still offers the best hope of eliminating disease, poverty, and ignorance in developing nations. "Widespread misgivings about the quality of contemporary life suggest that technology should do better," the author remarks—but how?
This study examines the relationships between technology and social change at three levels—national governments, lesser organized groups, and individual citizens—in order to explore their respective roles in the Western experience of industrialization. The author uses historians' conclusions about the Industrial Revolution and economists' judgments about the development in the Western context to illuminate some of the choices open to Third World political leaders, planners, and administrators, as well as to international agencies and corporations investing in development.
Chapters in the book draw on Western experience to answer a number of questions: Why does technological innovation occur at all, and who wants it? Who benefits from it, and how does participation in it affect governments, private institutions, and individuals? What must individuals do to take advantage of opportunities created by technology? When and how does modernizing change come, and how do the processes by which technology is diffused affect the course of modernization? How can technological opportunities be designed to accommodate the dimensions of social need and capacity? And, finally, how can planners link together the decisions that take place at all three levels in allocating institutional and individual resources for developmental purposes?
Dr. Montgomery concludes that, properly used, technology can permit industrializing societies to enjoy a better standard of living without suffering the worst of the social and environmental ills that accompanied modernization in the West.
The noted political scientist Samuel P. Huntington has written that the book "is an impressive work, sweeping in scope, exhaustive in research, and original in approach. It is basically concerned with the question of how public administrators can use technology to bring about social change so as to improve the conditions of poor people in poor countries."
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