Participatory Technology

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Science  19 Feb 1971:
Vol. 171, Issue 3972, pp. 647-653
DOI: 10.1126/science.171.3972.647


The hunger to participate that exists today in various segments of the American public is in part a response to what some people perceive as an unresponsiveness of institutions and processes to the felt needs of the individual and of society. It is also, in part, an expression of a desire for a redistribution of power in American public life.

Technology is one of the major determinants of the nature of public as well as private life in contemporary society. Participatory technology is an attempt on the part of diverse individuals and groups to influence technological processes through participation in existing or new public processes by which technology is or can be developed , controlled, and implemented. Like other processes of direct citizen participation in governmental decision making, it raises many questions about the adequacy of existing theories and practices of representative government. These questions cannot be answered on an a priori basis. Members of the educational, scientific, technical, and governmental communities should analyze these questions in an effort to develop answers that are appropriate to the particular situations for which they are responsible and with which they are concerned.

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