Political Ecology Network

Are there alternative trajectories of technological development? A political ecology perspective

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ENTITLE blog - a collaborative writing project on Political Ecology

by Vasilis Kostakis*

Alternative technological systems could develop through the confluence of digital commons, peer-to-peer relations and local manufacturing capacity – but we need the integration of a political ecology perspective to face and overcome the challenges this transition implies

Humans do not control modern technology: the technological system has colonized their imagination and it shapes their activities and relations. This statement reflects the thought of influential degrowth scholars, like Jacques Ellul and Ivan Illich.

Ellul believed that humans may control individual technologies, but not technology broadly conceived as the whole complex of methods and tools that advance efficiency. Instead, technology has taken a life of its own. Society should be in constant flux so that humans can shape it up to an important degree. Ellul was afraid that technology suppresses this flux, creating a uniform, static and paralytic system.

Building on Ellul, Illich and Ernst Friedrich Schumacher

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