Technology transfer and modernization
what can philosophers of technology contribute?
Ubiquity, Volume 2007 Issue December | BY Bernhard Irrgang
Technique- or technology-transfer is based in many ways on technological and economic paths that were often created by European colonization and have been intensified by Industrialization and Globalization. On the one hand, the modern age is a constantly developing planetary truth, a truth that impacts every society in the world. On the other hand, societies in third world countries have not produced this condition themselves because modernity is an external imposition. This means the modern age turns to be an unavoidable destiny for them. Traditional modernization and technology transfer abstract from almost all contextual factors. That is why technological development and modernization are being compared across continents and assessed with more or less value, not considering the cultural and social contextual circumstances. This supposes on one hand that the western way into the modern age has a model character, is normative and there are no alternatives to it. Also, it is supposed that the modern age is a desirable objective and that compensation leads to equal final situations.
A requirement for technological standards and for technology transfer are innovations which constantly promise new development paths and stable institutional settings that can be monitored over a long period. These setting have to be ensured by the cultural system, especially by their social-economical dimensions. Also, the religious dimension is a part of this setting, and in Africa and South-east Asia is closely connected to the form and style of life and to culture. Secularization comparable to the western world only takes place in major cities, as they are islands of modernization. For thousands of years, technological process innovations such as technology transfer have been digested by cultural embedding and not through modernization. This might vary from place to place but in general it shows the same development. Heteronomous transfers meet culturally motivated resistance or are ignored, whereas the circumstances of technology transfer are a bit different. It is not being identified with culture transfer and does not automatically lead to a broad modernization but to a form of development with a speed of cultural adjustment - for sure slower than required by modernization. But this development can mostly be digested with the help of the embedding-paradigm. It is our task to generate forms of modernization with consideration for cultural embedding and traditions.