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Chapter 35 : Science, Technology, and Society

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Abstract:

One cannot overestimate the importance of conducting classroom activities that encourage students to think about the complex interrelationships among science, technology, and society. While very few students will pursue biology as a career, all of them will be citizens in a society shaped by science and technology. If they respect the power of these fields to influence society for better or worse, then perhaps they will become concerned citizens, involved in ensuring that science and technology are directed toward maximizing societal benefits and minimizing costs. In addition to providing students with skills for analyzing societal issues and participating productively in discussions about technology development and use, the authors also hope that these activities provide one with a platform for impressing upon students the essential role each citizen must play in a democracy. Science and technology have altered the characteristics of societies throughout history. Some of the forces they have exerted have been revolutionary, and some have been minor. Different aspects of life—social, cultural, ecological, and economic— have been affected, and different groups have been affected in different ways. Often, one group has benefited at another’s expense. The agents guiding technology development along certain paths but not others include economics, ethical values, government policies, market opportunities, consumer preferences, and, in democracies, public opinion. As so many different forces can alter the course of science and technology development, different segments of society with divergent interests have the power to influence the trajectory of scientific research and technological innovation.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. Science, Technology, and Society, p 481-494. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Teachers, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816100.ch35

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Figures

Image of Figure 35.1
Figure 35.1

Science, technology, and society. In today's world, the relationship among progress in science, technology, and society is circular, not linear. Changes in one lead to changes in the others.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. Science, Technology, and Society, p 481-494. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Teachers, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816100.ch35
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Image of Figure 35.2
Figure 35.2

Technology development. Not all technologies that are both scientifically and technically possible make it all the way through the development process and become commercialized. They must pass through a series of filters, created by society, before they become reality. The order of the filters in the figure does not necessarily reflect the actual sequence of barriers every technology confronts during development, except the final filter, market forces. Only certain technologies that are commercialized succeed in the marketplace.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. Science, Technology, and Society, p 481-494. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Teachers, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816100.ch35
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Image of Figure 35.1
Figure 35.1

The relationship between progress in science and technology development is circular, not linear, so changes in one lead to changes in the other. In addition, their relationship is also reciprocal: technology is as important to scientific advance as scientific understanding is to technological innovation.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. Science, Technology, and Society, p 481-494. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Teachers, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816100.ch35
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Image of Figure 35.2
Figure 35.2

Stages of technology development. Basic scientific research leads to discoveries that give rise to ideas about possible technological solutions to problems. For technical and economic reasons, only a few of those ideas become realized as possible products or processes. Of those products and processes that are feasible, only some receive government regulatory approval. Additional attrition of potential technologies occurs during scale-up, because a sufficient amount of product at a saleable price cannot be produced.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. Science, Technology, and Society, p 481-494. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Teachers, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816100.ch35
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Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. Science, Technology, and Society, p 481-494. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Teachers, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816100.ch35
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Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. Science, Technology, and Society, p 481-494. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Teachers, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816100.ch35
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References

/content/book/10.1128/9781555816100.chap35a
1. Altheide, David L. 2002. Creating Fear: News and the Construction of Crisis. Adline Gruyter, New York, NY.
2. Ausubel, Jesse H.,, and Hedy E. Sladovich. 1989. Technology and Environment. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.
3. Bennett, W. Lance. 2003. News: the Politics of Illusion. Addison-Wesley, New York, NY.
4. Bronowski, J.1956. Science and Human Values. Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., New York, NY.
5. Bronkowski, J. 2006. The Common Sense of Science. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
6. Burke, James. 2000. Circles: Fifty Roundtrips through History, Technology, Science, Culture. Simon and Schuster, New York, NY.
7. Cardwell, Donald. 1995. The Norton History of Technology. W. W. Norton & Co., New York, NY.
8. Daniels, George H. 1971. Science in American Society: a Social History. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY.
9. Jasanoff, Sheila. 2005. Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
10. Postrel, Virginia. 1999. The Future and Its Enemies: the Growing Conflict over Creativity, Enterprise and Progress. Free Press, New York, NY.
11. Sclove, Richard,, and Steve Fuller. 1995. Democracy and Technology. Guilford Press, Edinburgh, Scotland.
12. Scott, James C. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
13. Snow, C. P. 1993. The Two Cultures. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.
14. Tenner, Edward. 1997. Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences. Vintage Books, New York, NY.

Tables

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Table 35.1

Fundamental differences between science and technology

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. Science, Technology, and Society, p 481-494. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Teachers, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816100.ch35
Generic image for table
Table 35.2

Time lapse between technology introduction and widespread use

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. Science, Technology, and Society, p 481-494. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Teachers, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816100.ch35

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