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Towards a functional analysis of resistance

Bauer, Martin W. (1995) Towards a functional analysis of resistance. In: Bauer, Martin W., (ed.) Resistance to New Technology: Nuclear Power, Information Technology and Biotechnology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 393 - 418. ISBN 9780521599481

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Identification Number: 10.1017/CBO9780511563706.020


In this chapter I develop two ideas about resistance in social processes in a speculative manner, with the help of a functional analogy: (a) resistance is primarily a functional event in social processes – dysfunctionality is possible but secondary; and (b) resistance is a contribution that urges consideration of whether to sustain a process, in analogy to ‘acute pain’, and if so, how. In whatever context, political, technological or economic, resistance is an action attribution, and as such the achievement of a communication system (Heidenscheder 1992). This analysis of resistance is mainly concerned with resistance in areas of present day technology, but makes use of ideas from other historical and political contexts. I explore a discursive schema with two main actors: an innovator and a resistant. Further differentiation is conceivable according to the various roles of the change agency (Ottaway 1983) and resistance (see Bauer, Chapter 1). The innovator proposes a project that is not acceptable and rejected tel-quel by the resistant part; in that mismatch mutually unexpected expectations meet. Concrete actors may change their roles in two ways. First, the innovator resists changes to the project; and resistance may become an initiator. Second, these parts of innovator and resistant are not scripted: they change as they are enacted. Being interested in the function of resistance in a process, I focus on effects: how does resistance affect the process that is its target.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1995 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: Methodology
Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: 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 15:12
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 04:35

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