Emerging Technologies and Social Cohesion: Policy Options from a Comparative Study

Title: Emerging Technologies and Social Cohesion: Policy Options from a Comparative Study
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: October 2008

Among the new expectations articulated for S&T policy is strengthening social cohesion and reducing inequality (Conceicao 2003; Freeman 2000). An overly narrow emphasis on innovation for economic growth and competitiveness in Europe is being complemented with calls for quality of life objectives for research policy (Cozzens, Kallerud et al., 2007). In many developing countries, inequality is a prominent problem, and goals for science and technology are geared to address it (for example, Persley 1999, Singer 2005).

Nonetheless, the research and innovation policy community knows little empirically about the effects of its instruments on social cohesion. On the one hand, those instruments may inadvertently reinforce or exacerbate existing inequalities; but there have been few studies of those effects. On the other hand, outside the domain of human resources, there is little empirical evidence on the effectiveness of S&T program designed to reduce inequalities.

This paper presents preliminary results from a cross-national, cross-technology study of the distributional effects of emerging technologies.2 The research aims to

  1. Describe the dynamics that link emerging technologies to patterns of inequality;
  2. Identify the roles of public interventions in those dynamics; and
  3. Develop a framework that policy actors can use prospectively to analyze the distributional valence of a specific new technology in a particular national context. Our central research question is how policy interventions affect distributional outcomes for the same technology under different national conditions.
External Contributors: Isabel Bortagaray, Sonia Gatchair
Related Departments:
  • Other (Non-IAC) Department
  • School of Public Policy