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Technophobia: a misleading conception of resistance to new technology

Bauer, Martin W. (1995) Technophobia: a misleading conception of resistance to new technology. In: Bauer, Martin W., (ed.) Resistance to New Technology: Nuclear Power, Information Technology and Biotechnology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 97 - 124. ISBN 9780521599481

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Identification Number: 10.1017/CBO9780511563706.006

Abstract

n the history of technology the concept of ‘technophobia’ seems to undergo a periodical revival to deal with people's reactions to innovations. This tendency to detect symptoms of pathology in people's experience of new technologies reappears in public debates. According to the historian Goffi (1988) we may distinguish a universal from a particular form of technophobia. Universal ‘phobia’ is expressed in ancient myths such as Prometheus, The Golem, Dr Faustus or the Greek notion of Hybris. The particular form is the anti-scientific attitudes in the recent industrial age. Often technophobia is part of the larger concept of ‘neophobia’ which refers to people's general aversion against all things new. In the nineteenth century, ‘Siderodromophobia’ subsumed adverse reactions to railway work and railway journeys: fever in the aftermath of journeys; the ‘delirium furiosum’, a mental agitation caused by the mere sight of a locomotive steaming by; and a hysterical aversion to work among locomotive and wagon personnel (Fischer-Homberger 1975, pp. 40f). Mitchell (1984) reports how at times the nuclear debate in the USA was conducted under the heading of ‘nuclear phobia’: images of nuclear power, spread by the media, touch on unconscious motivations, and give rise to an emotional over-reaction which brought the nuclear power industry to a virtual stop. To use the notion of ‘phobia’ to describe people's experience of and behaviour towards new technology is pragmatically not neutral; the psychopathological classification presents the problem through the ‘clinical’ eye.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL: https://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/his...
Additional Information: © 1995 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: Methodology
Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2011 15:10
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2021 23:28
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/39610

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