This chapter explores the idea that as part of a modernization process that gained speed in the nineteenth and twentieth century in the western world, a typical modernist practice of technology politics emerged.1 The concepts of modernization and modernity need to be handled with care, of course, since their use may easily lead to an identification with mod- ernizers, actors who have invented and used these labels to advance their cause. In addition, using these concepts for analysis might lead to finalism, as if past developments have led right up to the present. When these two pitfalls are avoided, the concepts of modernization and modernity are useful categories to discuss various structural changes in western societies since the eighteenth century. The concept of modernization refers to a new mode of social organization, a new social order, and a discontinuity in history (Wehler 1975; Giddens 1990). It is best understood as a process associated with a specific time period (eighteenth century to the twentieth century) and geographical location (the western world). The concept of modernity furthermore refers to a spe- cific mode of thinking in which technology is identified as the main way of advancing the modernization process. Technology has been far more central to the making of modernity than is usually recognized (Brey, chapter 2, this volume; Hård and Jamison 1998; Latour 1993).

To cite this publication:

Reference: Johan Schot, ‘The Contested Rise of a Modernist Technology Politics’, in: Thomas J. Misa, Philip Brey and Arie Rip (eds.), Modernity and Technology (Cambridge: MIT Press 2003), 257-278.

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