Technological Shortcuts to Social Change

By Amitai Etzioni; Richard Remp | Go to book overview
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5
CONCLUSIONS

THE "DEPTH" OF SHORTCUTS

We have traced in some detail how a variety of technological shortcuts can contribute to the solution or reduction of a number of domestic probshy; lems. We have been concerned both with the effects of the use of technoshy; logical shortcuts, and with the quality of the data reporting those effects. Up to this point this dual concern (imposed by the necessity of evaluating the adequacy of the information bearing on the technologies' effectiveness) has been fused in our discussion. Turning now from the specific cases of technological remedies to a more abstract and general consideration of techshy; nological shortcuts, we will able to separate these two issues. Initially, in the context of a number of other approaches to guided social change, we will consider reasons why technological shortcuts may be particularly useful. Next we deal with factors hampering the acquisition of information about remeshy; dial social programs and about the technology that could be used by these programs. Subsequently the two concerns fuse again as we discuss tailoring technological shortcuts to differing portions of the target populations. This is a means of increasing the effectiveness of the technological remedies that is particularly hampered by inadequate information. We conclude with a disshy; cussion of the influence of the governmental context on the development of technology, and of the normative questions raised by the impact of technolshy; ogy on society.

In each of the cases studied and in many others not reported here, we encountered an argument, often used by the opponents of accelerated solushy; tions of particular social problems, which suggest that the proposed shortshy; cuts deal with the symptoms of the problems and do not get at its fundamental causes, that they are only illusory solutions and cannot really handle the problems. Occasionally this is viewed as almost a matter of defishy; nition. The word "shortcut" evokes an images of superficiality, of nonstructural, illusory solutions. However, these connotations are misleading; no such implication is included in either our technical use of the term, or in its common dictionary definition. A shortcut simply means a shorter way of

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