Languages, Discourses and Ideology in Historical Perspective
Few concepts and terms remain uncontested. Each has its own detractors and critics: technological unemployment as “emotional” and the like;1 technological change as “metaphysical” and similar negative epithets;2 technological innovation as a “buzzword”.3 This book has documented the history of the conceptual and intellectual evolution of “technological innovation” over the twentieth century as a four-step process, from technological unemployment, to technological change, to technological progress, to technological innovation. This is my primary thesis. Labor issues are the origin of the study of technological innovation in the twentieth century: unemployment and productivity (of workers), plus industrial relations. But over the years, these issues changed to economic growth and the market.
My second thesis is that technology gave social existence to innovation. A word of denial in the previous centuries – innovation – changed to a positive concept thanks to or because of technology. Diverse utilitarian functions serve the term technological innovation. The term became a core term after World War II because of the instrumental function of technology to economic progress. The adjective technological stresses something that technical does not. Technological refers not to techniques mainly but rather, on one hand, to economic changes or effects due to techniques – unemployment and economic progress – and, on the other hand, to marketed products. In addition, the term serves political (market ideology), social (identity) and academic (disciplinary) functions. Scholars appropriated the term and secured a new tradition, opposing this new tradition to a previous one – technological change – in the name of...
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