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Questions concerning AMAT, technology and human reproduction

Dr. Patrick Fitzsimons Auckland Medical Aid Trust,  1999
Mail address: P.O. Box 29095, Greenwoods Corner, Auckland
Email Auckland Medical Aid Trust     

The Auckland Medical Aid Trust (AMAT)[1] was incorporated under the New Zealand Charitable Trusts Act in 1974.  Although AMAT is charitable, it is public rather than private, and is located in the 'not-for-profit' discourse[2].  As a public institution it must make itself accountable.  This report is one of its means of accountability. 

AMAT’s objects can be summarised as empowering it to address issues concerning: the support of human reproduction; and the provision of education -- including the research, publication and dissemination of literature -- about human reproduction.  But ideas such as 'research', 'education', 'human', and 'reproduction' are problematic in that they depend, in part, on how they are interpreted under modern technologically mediated conditions.  As an example, to the extent that technological change is proceeding beyond the capacity of many of society's institutions to interpret and adjust, it is an inadequate move to attempt to explain knowledge concerning human reproduction under one domain (e.g., within a medical discourse).  There is therefore, considerable importance to be attached to placing discussion of technologies on an agenda for critical debate especially about how they will, and ought to, impact on education -- on learning, teaching, and evaluation -- and also on the very process of policy formation[3] -- and therefore, their impact on the objects of AMAT.  

This paper contextualises AMAT's objects within a space circumscribed by the discourses of technology, economics and culture[4].[5].  This emphasis concerns AMAT because economic, cultural, and technological developments change the ways in which we know ourselves[6], what it means to be human, and therefore, reproduction of the ‘human’.  This is relevant in terms of the objects of AMAT because in an international context there is an educational focus to the relations between neoliberalism[7], globalisation and electronically mediated communications technologies[8].  Interpretation of its objects is therefore important to AMAT.

AMAT as a 'Not-For Profit' institution

The philosophical basis underlying recent societal and economic changes in New Zealand and several other Western countries has been explained as neoliberal.  Neoliberalism represents a major shift in thinking about the role of government and its institutions such as AMAT.  Prior to 1984 New Zealand had a tradition of organic solidarity which found expression in the welfare state where the ethics of ordinary life shaped the economy.  On the back of international movements, the policy direction since 1991 has been to devolve responsibility for welfare to local communities, especially the Not-for-Profit organisations, sometimes referred to as the ‘third sector’, or the ‘shadow state’[9].  A previous New Zealand Prime Minister[10] argued that Not-For-Profits in the ‘community’ are essentially part of the government’s targeted funding policy environment.   The role of recent New Zealand welfare reforms in supporting the overall economic restructuring emphasises the role of community, with strategic result areas that help to operationalise Government strategies[11].  In the Not-For-Profit language of the new welfare economics, individuals are to become more 'self reliant’ while at the same time being ‘dependent’ on the ‘community’.  This situation is more than just a paradox; it disguises the ways in which charities are increasingly being expected to supplement government funding.

Interpreting AMAT’s objects

An analysis of the language employed in interpreting the objects of AMAT is important, as it is the place where actual and possible forms of social organisation, and their likely social and political consequences, are defined and contested[12].  As explanations for economic, cultural, educational and technological developments change, so to do the ways in which organisations affected by those changes (such as AMAT) can interpret or ‘read’ its objects.  By 'read' we mean to extend the category of what normally falls under this verb.  Certainly, to read out aloud parts of a text (remember sitting on the schoolroom mat?) could be claimed as the 'reading' here.  But that response relies on a rather limited notion of reading.  These types of surface readings rely on a belief that there is a one to one correspondence between language and the world – which, of course, there is not. 

‘Reading’, however, is rather more than this; it is to develop and test out interpretations.  These interpretations produce new ‘readings’ which requires research, analytical and critical approaches, the examination of arguments, and communication with others in community.  In other words, since interpretation[13] suggests there is no essential meaning in the language itself, the reader (who interprets) actually creates the meaning in a particular social context.   The value of that interpretation is, of course, itself a matter of interpretation.  ‘Reading’ then, is another way of expressing the idea of interpretation.  As is already apparent, this method (way of proceeding) stands against the ‘inoculation’ theory of reading where having ‘read’ something once, you never have to read it again.  It is to suggest there are many different types of reading, and that different kinds of texts require different kinds of reading.  The AMAT’s ‘objects’ then, have no meaning without a reader.   And as the ways in which we read the discourses change, so too do the possibilities for action and vice versa.  Even legislation is interpreted in judgements in Courts of Law and Acts of Parliament where interpretations are based on discursive change. 

Suffice to say that the AMAT objects require continual interpretation to produce ‘readings’.  However there is no final reading as through (re)search and discourse developments many perspectives will be discovered.  This approach emphasises that knowledge is always politically interested (and thus partial) and although different interests may increase the knowledge, it does not imply that knowledge lacks neither objectivity nor truth.  Neither must this approach be understood as meaning that any logically possible interpretation will do, but rather, that each meaning or change of meaning is an expression of particular interests i.e., an exercise of power.  Michel Foucault, the French philosopher, calls this power/knowledge.[14]  This continual exercise of power relations over what counts as knowledge necessitates continual research on ‘human reproduction’ in order to facilitate the production of information for the 'public good' of New Zealand.

Interpreting the idea of reproduction

A basic assumption of this paper is that as technology and knowledge interact, changes in one affect the other.  It is important therefore to note their developments and the relationships between them rather than searching for definitive 'causes'.  In this sense, scientists and social commentators need each other to interpret human reproduction and technological developments in the light of each other. 

The very idea of reproduction conjures up images on the one hand of copying something already in existence and producing it again; and on the other hand producing something new.  Medieval copyists regarded this as a pedagogical (teaching) relationship.  (Re)production in the sense of copying something already in existence could be regarded pejoratively as mere mimicry or cloning.  Reproduction in this sense is merely repeated production and that collapses the notions of production and (re)production i.e., there is no difference. 

A more adequate interpretation of (re)production -- and one that AMAT subscribes to -- defines knowledge as evolutionary.  That allows for the creation and integration of responses to the world including our conceptual heritage, recent technological developments, changes in the nation state and regional and global policy regimes. 

Globalisation

Globalisation is an emergent feature in explanations about our social life today.  It relates to the increasing interdependence and internationalisation of both formal institutions (businesses, nation-states, media, the Internet) and dimensions of personal identity (such as ethnic affiliation).  At first glance the rhetoric of globalisation seems to suggest that nation states are in the process of powerful, irreversible social changes.  Yet there are also indications to the contrary: the resurgence of cultural, national and ethnic forces; poststructuralist literature that problematises such notions; the interactive relationships between nation states, global cities, and the regional and global organisations supported by those same nation states[15].  The emergence of representations of the world as a single place brought about by global homogenisation tends to imply either an ahistorical account of the present or one that regards the history of globalisation in social evolutionary terms. This is problematic insofar as contemporary globalisation is seen as emerging out of earlier developments as the only possible present and the only conceivable future[16].  In some sense, of course, the world has been 'global' for 500 years or more; and in an ecological, sense the world has always been global.  Yet contemporary trends seem to indicate that something qualitatively different is occurring today.

Sassons[17] interrogates the relationship between the nation state and the global economy under three components of what she terms ‘a new geography of power’.  The first component concerns the territorial exclusivity of sovereign states and their importance in the international system.  The second component concerns the ascendancy of a new legal regime for governing cross-border transactions.   The third component is the problem of electronic space overriding all existing territorial jurisdictions -- which may contribute to a crisis of control that transcends the governing capacities of both the state and institutional apparatus of the economy.  An illustrative case is the attempt to address these sorts of issues is the legislation[18] enacted by the New Zealand Government as a result of its recent signing of the Hague Convention which is an international agreement to regulate inter-country adoption according to rules negotiated under a variety of discourses. 

An almost instantaneous flow and exchange of information, and capital and cultural communication now characterise the global economy[19].  These flows organise and shape both consumption and production, including education.  The networks within which the flows occur reflect and constitute distinctive cultures.  Both they and the information they distribute are largely outside regulation by the nation state.  The growth of a global economy in conjunction with the new telecommunications and computer networks that span the world has also profoundly reconfigured institutions fundamental to processes of governance and accountability in the modern state.  State sovereignty, nation–based citizenship, the institutional apparatus in charge of regulating the economy, such as central banks and monetary policies – all of these institutions are being destabilised and even transformed as a result of globalisation and the new technologies.  As the idea of national borders becomes problematic, so too does knowledge based on them.

Knowledge -- its economics and productivity -- has become important as the basis for national competition within the international marketplace.  In a report on a recent conference held in New Zealand, Bowen[20] writes that "globalisation is allowing successful business models to enter new geographies (and that) the explosion of information available from the Internet and electronic commerce will reshape the way businesses function".  Thurow[21] suggests that a technological shift to an era dominated by man-made brainpower industries is one of five economic tectonic plates which constitute a new game with new rules: today knowledge and skills stand alone as the only source of comparative advantage.  They have become the key ingredients in late twentieth century economic activity.  The redefinition of knowledge as an informational commodity is underpinned by a rationality that is different from traditional liberal definitions of knowledge.  A glance at any modern western university calendar shows that a study of knowledge in the liberal tradition includes such topics as: scepticism; foundational, coherence and externalist theories of knowledge; apriori and empirical knowledge; idealism and realism; truth; and relativism.  These topics clearly do not figure in the discourse of globalisation where information, by contrast, merely finds its utility in the market.  With information then, there is something very different from what has traditionally been understood as knowledge. 

The new global economy is not just the universalisation of capitalism after the collapse of communism; it also involves the rise of finance capitalism, supported by the emergence of new information and communications technologies, and a series of agreements concerning the liberalisation of world trade.  The neoliberal paradigm for economic restructuring has dominated the policy agendas of most western countries during the decade of the 1980s with the abolition of subsidies and tariffs, floating of the exchange rate, privatisation of state assets, encouragement of foreign direct investment, and downsizing and commercialisation of public sectors.  The dominant philosophy of neoliberalism “has contributed to the formation of transnational legal regimes that are centred in Western economic concepts”[22] that themselves embody the micro-move towards contractualism.  The deregulation of domestic financial markets, the liberalization of international capital flows, computer networks and telecommunications have all contributed to the growth of financial markets.   It has been estimated that by the year 2000 the value of capital in financial markets will have risen to 83 trillion dollars, three times the aggregate GDP of the OECD (the 27 most wealthy countries).  Financial markets, rather than investments in production, now drive economies.  This effect of international finance is not new but there are three major differences from the past: the instantaneous transmission and interconnectivity of the information technologies; the concentration of market power in institutions; and financial innovations that increase the supply of financial instruments for trading.  The rise of electronic cash reduces the central banks control over the money supply because electronic money moves through computer networks, bypassing the information-gathering systems.  This leads to a disciplining function on national governments and pressures them to become accountable to the logic of the market.  Not-for-profit entities like AMAT are no exception. 

The move from knowledge to information

Recently, there has been a fundamental change in the ways that scientific, social, and cultural knowledge is being produced[23].  One of these configurations is the new informational economy that has emerged in the last two decades on a worldwide scale.  The emergence of a new technological paradigm organised around new, powerful and flexible information technologies makes it possible for information itself to become the product of the production process.  In other words, knowledge about human reproduction is being produced through technology.

In this new mode of information, research and transmission, the two principal functions of knowledge, have also been transformed by technical and scientific developments.  These developments are themselves based significantly on language as a game within computerised societies as they enter into what is known as the post-industrial age and cultures enter the Postmodern Condition[24].  Scientific knowledge now defines the object of study, but in seeking the truth it is obliged to legitimate the rules of its own game[25].  For the last forty years the 'leading' sciences and technologies have had to do with language.  The developments have had to do with: phonology and theories of linguistics, problems of communication and cybernetics, modern theories of algebra and informatics, computers and their languages, problems of translation and the search for areas of compatibility among computer languages, problems of information storage and data banks, perfection of intelligent terminals, paradoxology.  This list is not exhaustive.[26]  Science has played a leading role in technological developments that are constituted by, and are affected by, knowledge. 

Such technological transformations can be expected to have an impact on knowledge.  Cybernetics, for example, aids research by giving genetics its theoretical paradigm.  In terms of transmission of knowledge, miniaturisation and commercialisation of machines is already changing the way in which learning is acquired, classified, made available and exploited.  Knowledge can fit into the new channels, and become operational, only if learning is translated into quantities of information.  Along with the hegemony of computers comes a certain logic, and therefore certain sets of prescriptions determining which statements are accepted as ‘knowledge’ statements.[27]  This knowledge is exteriorised with respect to the ‘knower’ and becomes a commodity: it is produced in order to be sold -- it has exchange value.  Knowledge now as an informational commodity ceases to be an end in itself; it loses its ‘use value’.  In this respect it has become the principal force of production and has affected the composition of the work force.  The mercantilisation of knowledge affects the privilege that nation states enjoy with respect to the production and distribution of learning.  Since there are those who have ‘knowledge’ and those who do not, it is conceivable that knowledge will become the major stake in world competition for power.

Multinational corporations already have cross-national access to storage and control of channels of data and what counts as knowledge.  The State must therefore reconsider its relationship to civil society as well as to the large corporations.  The idea that the State can control or even guide investments for example, needs re-examining, which has implications for the restructuring of the State in New Zealand.  Lyotard[28] can visualise learning circulating along the same lines as money, where the pertinent distinction would no longer be made between knowledge and ignorance, but rather, as is the case with money, between ‘payment knowledge’ and ‘investment knowledge’.  If this were the case, communicational transparency would be similar to liberalism.  Liberalism does not preclude an organisation of the flow of money in which some channels are used in decision making while others are only good for the repayment of debts.  One could similarly imagine flows of knowledge travelling along identical channels of identical nature, some of which would be reserved for the ‘decision makers’, while the others could be used to repay each person’s perpetual debt with respect to the social bond.  Lyotard refers to this position as his working hypothesis that defines the field within which he considers the question of the status of knowledge[29].  It is also a working hypothesis that suggests a way for AMAT to interpret its objects. 

Technology and human reproduction

Andrew Feenberg[30] argues that explanations about technology fall into one of two major categories; instrumental and substantive.  Instrumental theories are the most widely accepted view of technology based on the idea that technologies are tools for human purposes, neutral in value, universally applicable, with their only problem being the use to which it they are put.   In this view, the only price for resistance to technology on environmental, religious or cultural grounds, is reduced efficiency.   The instrumental definition makes the problem of technology seem only a problem of mastering it.  A focus limited to the instrumental difference makes technology seem neutral, suggesting that there is neither good nor bad technology, only ends.  According to Heidegger this view of technology is a sinister phenomenon of modern life because whether we passionately affirm or deny it we are delivered over to it in the worst possible way when we regard it as something neutral; for this conception of it makes us utterly blind to the essence of technology[31].

In contrast to instrumental theories, substantive theories argue that technology constitutes a new type or cultural system that restructures the entire social world as an object of control; it has a substantive impact.  Unlike the instrumental view, technology seen in the substantive mode is part of life that subjugates humanity to itself.  Heidegger’s work The Question Concerning Technology explains the dehumanisation of modern society that he called the 'darkening of the world' where technology enters into the inmost reaches of human existence, transforming the way we know, live and will.  As the development in electronic technology continues it will become a mode of human existence.  It has even been said that technology has reduced us to the 'sex organs of the machine world'.[32]  If this construction of existence is a regular effect across cultures the cultural variety in the reception and appropriation of technology will not matter.  Accordingly, technology will continue to affect more and more of social life, and less and less will remain free to constitute a cultural difference.  Heidegger's substantive analysis shows modern technology with a determinate existence of its own -- a notion of a 'will to will'[33] beyond what Friedrich Nietzsche called the 'will to power'[34].  In Heidegger's theory of modern technology human agency is irrelevant, and the new technological developments can be seen as providing merely an illusion of freedom under a neoliberal rhetoric of utopian global economics that promises a new technological mode of being.  Although we cannot live without technology (and nor would we want to), we are vulnerable when it becomes our primary means of communication and, in the absence of agency, transforms us. 

How can AMAT address these challenges?

In response to these issues AMAT will restructure its capacity in significant ways, including:

         the establishment, funding and promotion of the AMAT Research Institute to formulate, promote, and carry out and disseminate research findings (of which the issues raised in this paper are part), and promote the educational role of AMAT;

         the development of an Adoption Resource Centre including the appointment of a paid Social Worker for counselling referrals and information

         research (including feasibility studies) to address the burgeoning discourse in adoption, including the Adoption (Inter-country) Act 1997 and New Zealand’s signing of the Hague Convention

         the provision of a governance and shareholding structure for the clinical operation for abortion, contraception education, and other aspects of women’s health under the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977, through its limited liability charitable company, AMAC Ltd[35];

         the development and maintenance electronically mediated communication and information technology to disseminate education and information, including its website: http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~amat/amat.htm

         the appointment and education of Trustees with capacities that enable them to address the issues that derive from the technological and other changes in national and international regimes such as the electronic technological imperatives, neoliberalism, globalisation and the 'informational' economy within which AMAT is implicated;

         increased AMAT administration capacity including the appointment of an executive officer;

         increased emphasis by AMAT on policy and research, especially into national and globalised developments; and

         the development and maintenance of functional relationships with national and international organisations.

References

[1] AMAT's objects are:

"to establish and maintain a comprehensive health and welfare service related to the human reproductive process and its control (whether by means of contraception, sterilization, abortion or otherwise) and to that end to establish, provide and maintain hospitals and clinics and surgical, medical, pharmaceutical, counselling and welfare services

to arrange and conduct lectures meetings and classes and to publish and disseminate literature and to do all other things to educate the public in the facts of human reproduction and the human reproductive process and of all matters concerning reproductive health and well-being physical and social" (AMAT Trust Deed).

[2] Hansmann, H. (1980). ‘The role of nonprofit enterprise’, in Oster, Sharon, (Ed.) (1994) Management of Non-Profit Organisations, Sydney: Dartmouth, 59.  Le Grand, J. & L. Robinson. (1984). Privatisation and the Welfare State. London: Allen & Unwin, p.6.  Smith S., & Lipsky, M. (1993) Non Profits for Hire: The Welfare State in the Age of Contracting, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 37. 

[3] Peters M. & Roberts, P. (1998). 'Introduction' in M. Peters and P. Roberts (Eds.). Virtual Technologies and Tertiary Education. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, p. 29.

[4] For a sample of this discourse, see: A Prospectus for the Western Virtual University (1996). http://www.westgov.org/ smart/vu/wvuprorp.htm. Bell, D. (1976). The Coming of the Post -Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting. Basic Books. (1973 original edition).  Block, F. (1990). Post Industrial Possibilities: A Critique of Economic Discourse. Los Angeles: University of California Press. Borgman, A. (1984). Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Borgman, A. (1993). Crossing the Postmodern Divide, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Castells, M. (1989). The Informational City: Information Technology, Economic Restructuring and the Urban- Regional Process. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.  Fitzsimons, P. (1998). Electronic networks and education in the postmodern condition, in Peters, M., and Roberts, P. (Eds.) Virtual Technologies in Tertiary Education. Palmerston North: The Dunmore Press, pp. 196-211.  Gee, J and Lankshear, C. (1994). ‘The New Work Order: Critical Language Awareness and ‘Fast Capitalist’ Texts’. In: Discourse: Studies in the cultural Politics of Education, 16 1: 5-20. Ministry of Education. (1994b). Education for the 21st Century. Wellington: New Zealand. Information Infrastructure Advisory Council. (1995) Common Ground: Fundamental Principles for the National Information Infrastructures. First Report (Http://stargate.con-ed.howard.e…chives/commonground.htm#access). Peters, M. (Ed). (1995). Education and the Postmodern Condition. Westport, Connecticut: Bergin and Harvey. (Forword by J-F Lyotard.). Poster, M. (1994). ‘A Second Media Age?’ Hinkson, J, G Sharp and D White (eds). ARENA Journal North Carlton, Australia: Arena Printing and Publishing, 3: 49-92. Lanham, R. (1993). The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology and the Arts. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Masuda, Y. (1981). The Information Society as Post-Industrial Society. Washington: World Future Society. Poster, M. (1990). The Mode of Information: Poststructuralism and Social Context. Cambridge, U.K: Polity Press.  Postman, N. (1993). Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books.  Reich, Robert. (1992). The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism. New York: Vintage Books.  Rosenau, P-M. (1992). Post-Modernism And The Social Sciences: Insights, Inroads, And Intrusions. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.  Touraine, A. (1995). Critique of Modernity. Trans. D. Macey. Oxford: Blackwell.  Vattimo, G. (1992). The Transparent Society. Cambridge: Polity Press. (Trans. David Webb).  Weedon, C. (1987). Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory. London: Blackwell.  Zuboff, S. (1989). In The Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power. USA: Basic Books. Harvey, D. (1989) The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Cambridge: Blackwell.

[5] See the literature on cybernetic organisms e.g., Gray, C. (1995). (Ed.). The Cyborg Handbook. New York: Routledge.  See also Wilkie, T. (1993). Perilous Knowledge: The Human Genome Project and its Implications. London: Faber and Faber. 

[6] “Poster (1993) argues that these matters and the restraints or enhancements upon them can govern with striking force the shape that societies take.  For him technicist approaches do not approach the heart of the matter, "the configuration of information exchange",  or as he calls it "the wrapping of language".  He argues that the configuration of language is an analytically autonomous realm of experience especially with the rapidly changing modes of electronic communication that not only alter but restructure networks of social relations and constitute subjects in very different ways to the personally autonomous agent of the second stage and any representational view of language.  Changes in the wrapping of language then alter the way meanings are derived, restructure social relations, constitute the subject in different ways, and alter the relations between subject and the world”. [Peters, M.A., Marshall, J. and Fitzsimons, P. (1999) 'Postmodernism and the New Theology of the Curriculum'. In: Lankshear, C., Peters, M.A., Alba, A., and Gonzales, E. Curriculum in the Postmodern Condition, New York, Peter Lang].

[7] Neoliberalism is a form of power relations.  It constructs the notion of the minimalist state through the legal, institutional and cultural conditions that will enable the artificial competitive game of entrepreneurial conduct to be played to best effect.  Entrepreneurial conduct requires neoliberalism to promote enterprise culture where there is a "generalisation of an enterprise form to all forms of conduct and the promotion of enterprise culture through invented forms" [Burchell, G. (1993). ‘Liberal Government and Techniques of Self’. Economy and Society. Special Issue: Liberalism, Neo -liberalism and Governmentality, 22, 3: p. 276].

[8] Peters M. & Roberts, P. (1998). ibid, p. 24.

[9] These practices are alive and well in New Zealand. See e.g., Murphy, L. (1996). ‘Zoo likely to go to trust, not private’. Wellington: The Dominion.  Murphy reports “the Wellington City Council is considering a charitable trust to oversee its zoo.  The Council could then distance itself from it, but still retain some control”.  See also Wolch, J. (1990) The Shadow State: Government and the Voluntary Sector in Transition, New York: The Foundation Center.

[10] Bolger, J. (1995a) Investing In Our Future: Towards 2010: Companion document to the 1995 Budget Policy Statement, Wellington: New Zealand Government.  Bolger, J. (1995b). Strategic Result Areas for the Public Sector 1994-1997, Parliament Buildings, Wellington: New Zealand Government.

[11] Bolger 1995b, Ibid p.3.

[12] “Yet it is also the place where our sense of ourselves, our subjectivity, is constructed.  The assumption that subjectivity is constructed implies that it is not innate, not genetically determined, but socially produced.  Subjectivity is produced in a whole range of discursive practices - economic, social, and political - the meanings of which are a constant site of struggle over power.  Language is not the expression of unique individuality: it constructs the individual’s subjectivity in ways which are socially specific... subjectivity is neither unified nor fixed.  Unlike humanism, which implies a conscious knowing, unified, rational subject, postmodernism theories ouf subjectivity as a site of disunity and conflict, are central to the process of political change and to preserving the status quo” [Weedon, Chris. (1987). Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory. London: Blackwell. P.  21)]

[13] Interpretation is the philosophical method employed to make sense of a ‘text’ (i.e., in the broadest sense, what we read, e.g., printed materials, film, art, computers, practices etc).  Technically, the method is called hermeneutics and has been documented as far back as the Bible.

[14] Foucault, M. (1977). Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews And Other Writings 1972-1977. (Trans. C. Gordon, L. Marshall, J. Mepham, K. Soper).  Great Britain: The Harvester Press.

[15] Sassons, S. (1996). Losing Control?: Sovereignty in the age of Globalization. New York: Columbia University Press. 

[16] Holton, 1998: 9-10.

[17] Sassons, ibid p.1

[18] The Adoption (Intercountry) Act 1997

[19] Castells, M. (1996) The Rise of the Network Society. The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Vol. 1, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers).

[20] Bowen, R. (1999) Visionaries flourish in knowledge revolution, New Zealand Herald, February 12, C2.

[21] Thurow, L. (1996). The Future of Capitalism: How Today’s Economic Forces Will Shape Tomorrow’s World. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, p.68.

[22] Sassons, ibid, p. 17

[23] The new ways are complex, hybrid, non-linear, reflexive, and heterogeneous.  It is a new mode of production of information as opposed to commodities.  It crosses disciplinary boundaries in that it contributes theoretical structures, research methods, and modes of practice that are not located on current disciplinary or interdisciplinary frameworks.  One of its effects is to replace or reform established institutions, practices, and policies.  Problem contexts are transient and problem solvers mobile.  Emerging out of wider societal and cognitive pressures, knowledge is dynamic.  There is continuous mutual stimulation between various nodes in a dense worldwide communication network.  As a result new configurations are continuously generated.

[24] Lyotard, J-F. (1984). The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. (Theory and History of Literature, 10). Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

[25] Lyotard, ibid p. xxiii. See also Foray, D. & Lundvall, B. (1996) The knowledge-based economy: From the economics of knowledge to the learning economy, in: Employment and Growth in the Knowledge-based Economy OECD Documents Paris: Oecd.  Peters, M. (1995). ‘Education and the Postmodern Condition: Revisiting J-F Lyotard’. Journal of Philosophy of Education. The Journal of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britiain, 29,3: 387-400.  Peters, M. (Ed). (1995). Education and the Postmodern Condition. (Forword by J-F Lyotard). Westport, Connecticut: Bergin and Harvey.

[26] Lyotard, ibid p. 3.

[27] Ibid p. 4

[28] ibid, p.6

[29] ibid p.7

[30] Feenberg, A. (1991). Critical Theory of Technology , New York: Oxford University Press. See also Ellul, J. (1984). The Technological Society. (Trans. J. Wilkinson), New York; Vintage Books.

[31] Heidegger, M. (1977). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. (Trans. with Intro. W. Lovitt). New York: Harper & Row, p. 4.

[32] McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding Media. New York: McGraw Hill, p.46.

[33] For an account of an electronic system that wills its own development independent of human agency -- i.e., its will to will -- see Fitzsimons, P. (1998). Electronic networks and education in the postmodern condition, in Peters, M. and P. Roberts (Eds.) Virtual Technologies in Tertiary Education. Palmerston North: The Dunmore Press, pp. 196-211.

[34] Nietzsche, F. (1968) The Will to Power. (Trans. W. Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale) Ed. W. Kaufmann.  Random House: New York.

[35] This has been in place since 1993.

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The Auckland Medical Aid Trust (AMAT)[1] was incorporated under the New Zealand Charitable Trusts Act in 1974.  Although AMAT is charitable, it is public rather than private, and is located in the 'not-for-profit' discourse[2].  As a public institution it must make itself accountable.  This report is one of its means of accountability. 

AMAT’s objects can be summarised as empowering it to address issues concerning: the support of human reproduction; and the provision of education -- including the research, publication and dissemination of literature -- about human reproduction.  But ideas such as 'research', 'education', 'human', and 'reproduction' are problematic in that they depend, in part, on how they are interpreted under modern technologically mediated conditions.  As an example, to the extent that technological change is proceeding beyond the capacity of many of society's institutions to interpret and adjust, it is an inadequate move to attempt to explain knowledge concerning human reproduction under one domain (e.g., within a medical discourse).  There is therefore, considerable importance to be attached to placing discussion of technologies on an agenda for critical debate especially about how they will, and ought to, impact on education -- on learning, teaching, and evaluation -- and also on the very process of policy formation[3] -- and therefore, their impact on the objects of AMAT.  

This paper contextualises AMAT's objects within a space circumscribed by the discourses of technology, economics and culture[4].[5].  This emphasis concerns AMAT because economic, cultural, and technological developments change the ways in which we know ourselves[6], what it means to be human, and therefore, reproduction of the ‘human’.  This is relevant in terms of the objects of AMAT because in an international context there is an educational focus to the relations between neoliberalism[7], globalisation and electronically mediated communications technologies[8].  Interpretation of its objects is therefore important to AMAT.

AMAT as a 'Not-For Profit' institution

The philosophical basis underlying recent societal and economic changes in New Zealand and several other Western countries has been explained as neoliberal.  Neoliberalism represents a major shift in thinking about the role of government and its institutions such as AMAT.  Prior to 1984 New Zealand had a tradition of organic solidarity which found expression in the welfare state where the ethics of ordinary life shaped the economy.  On the back of international movements, the policy direction since 1991 has been to devolve responsibility for welfare to local communities, especially the Not-for-Profit organisations, sometimes referred to as the ‘third sector’, or the ‘shadow state’[9].  A previous New Zealand Prime Minister[10] argued that Not-For-Profits in the ‘community’ are essentially part of the government’s targeted funding policy environment.   The role of recent New Zealand welfare reforms in supporting the overall economic restructuring emphasises the role of community, with strategic result areas that help to operationalise Government strategies[11].  In the Not-For-Profit language of the new welfare economics, individuals are to become more 'self reliant’ while at the same time being ‘dependent’ on the ‘community’.  This situation is more than just a paradox; it disguises the ways in which charities are increasingly being expected to supplement government funding.

Interpreting AMAT’s objects

An analysis of the language employed in interpreting the objects of AMAT is important, as it is the place where actual and possible forms of social organisation, and their likely social and political consequences, are defined and contested[12].  As explanations for economic, cultural, educational and technological developments change, so to do the ways in which organisations affected by those changes (such as AMAT) can interpret or ‘read’ its objects.  By 'read' we mean to extend the category of what normally falls under this verb.  Certainly, to read out aloud parts of a text (remember sitting on the schoolroom mat?) could be claimed as the 'reading' here.  But that response relies on a rather limited notion of reading.  These types of surface readings rely on a belief that there is a one to one correspondence between language and the world – which, of course, there is not. 

‘Reading’, however, is rather more than this; it is to develop and test out interpretations.  These interpretations produce new ‘readings’ which requires research, analytical and critical approaches, the examination of arguments, and communication with others in community.  In other words, since interpretation[13] suggests there is no essential meaning in the language itself, the reader (who interprets) actually creates the meaning in a particular social context.   The value of that interpretation is, of course, itself a matter of interpretation.  ‘Reading’ then, is another way of expressing the idea of interpretation.  As is already apparent, this method (way of proceeding) stands against the ‘inoculation’ theory of reading where having ‘read’ something once, you never have to read it again.  It is to suggest there are many different types of reading, and that different kinds of texts require different kinds of reading.  The AMAT’s ‘objects’ then, have no meaning without a reader.   And as the ways in which we read the discourses change, so too do the possibilities for action and vice versa.  Even legislation is interpreted in judgements in Courts of Law and Acts of Parliament where interpretations are based on discursive change. 

Suffice to say that the AMAT objects require continual interpretation to produce ‘readings’.  However there is no final reading as through (re)search and discourse developments many perspectives will be discovered.  This approach emphasises that knowledge is always politically interested (and thus partial) and although different interests may increase the knowledge, it does not imply that knowledge lacks neither objectivity nor truth.  Neither must this approach be understood as meaning that any logically possible interpretation will do, but rather, that each meaning or change of meaning is an expression of particular interests i.e., an exercise of power.  Michel Foucault, the French philosopher, calls this power/knowledge.[14]  This continual exercise of power relations over what counts as knowledge necessitates continual research on ‘human reproduction’ in order to facilitate the production of information for the 'public good' of New Zealand.

Interpreting the idea of reproduction

A basic assumption of this paper is that as technology and knowledge interact, changes in one affect the other.  It is important therefore to note their developments and the relationships between them rather than searching for definitive 'causes'.  In this sense, scientists and social commentators need each other to interpret human reproduction and technological developments in the light of each other. 

The very idea of reproduction conjures up images on the one hand of copying something already in existence and producing it again; and on the other hand producing something new.  Medieval copyists regarded this as a pedagogical (teaching) relationship.  (Re)production in the sense of copying something already in existence could be regarded pejoratively as mere mimicry or cloning.  Reproduction in this sense is merely repeated production and that collapses the notions of production and (re)production i.e., there is no difference. 

A more adequate interpretation of (re)production -- and one that AMAT subscribes to -- defines knowledge as evolutionary.  That allows for the creation and integration of responses to the world including our conceptual heritage, recent technological developments, changes in the nation state and regional and global policy regimes. 

Globalisation

Globalisation is an emergent feature in explanations about our social life today.  It relates to the increasing interdependence and internationalisation of both formal institutions (businesses, nation-states, media, the Internet) and dimensions of personal identity (such as ethnic affiliation).  At first glance the rhetoric of globalisation seems to suggest that nation states are in the process of powerful, irreversible social changes.  Yet there are also indications to the contrary: the resurgence of cultural, national and ethnic forces; poststructuralist literature that problematises such notions; the interactive relationships between nation states, global cities, and the regional and global organisations supported by those same nation states[15].  The emergence of representations of the world as a single place brought about by global homogenisation tends to imply either an ahistorical account of the present or one that regards the history of globalisation in social evolutionary terms. This is problematic insofar as contemporary globalisation is seen as emerging out of earlier developments as the only possible present and the only conceivable future[16].  In some sense, of course, the world has been 'global' for 500 years or more; and in an ecological, sense the world has always been global.  Yet contemporary trends seem to indicate that something qualitatively different is occurring today.

Sassons[17] interrogates the relationship between the nation state and the global economy under three components of what she terms ‘a new geography of power’.  The first component concerns the territorial exclusivity of sovereign states and their importance in the international system.  The second component concerns the ascendancy of a new legal regime for governing cross-border transactions.   The third component is the problem of electronic space overriding all existing territorial jurisdictions -- which may contribute to a crisis of control that transcends the governing capacities of both the state and institutional apparatus of the economy.  An illustrative case is the attempt to address these sorts of issues is the legislation[18] enacted by the New Zealand Government as a result of its recent signing of the Hague Convention which is an international agreement to regulate inter-country adoption according to rules negotiated under a variety of discourses. 

An almost instantaneous flow and exchange of information, and capital and cultural communication now characterise the global economy[19].  These flows organise and shape both consumption and production, including education.  The networks within which the flows occur reflect and constitute distinctive cultures.  Both they and the information they distribute are largely outside regulation by the nation state.  The growth of a global economy in conjunction with the new telecommunications and computer networks that span the world has also profoundly reconfigured institutions fundamental to processes of governance and accountability in the modern state.  State sovereignty, nation–based citizenship, the institutional apparatus in charge of regulating the economy, such as central banks and monetary policies – all of these institutions are being destabilised and even transformed as a result of globalisation and the new technologies.  As the idea of national borders becomes problematic, so too does knowledge based on them.

Knowledge -- its economics and productivity -- has become important as the basis for national competition within the international marketplace.  In a report on a recent conference held in New Zealand, Bowen[20] writes that "globalisation is allowing successful business models to enter new geographies (and that) the explosion of information available from the Internet and electronic commerce will reshape the way businesses function".  Thurow[21] suggests that a technological shift to an era dominated by man-made brainpower industries is one of five economic tectonic plates which constitute a new game with new rules: today knowledge and skills stand alone as the only source of comparative advantage.  They have become the key ingredients in late twentieth century economic activity.  The redefinition of knowledge as an informational commodity is underpinned by a rationality that is different from traditional liberal definitions of knowledge.  A glance at any modern western university calendar shows that a study of knowledge in the liberal tradition includes such topics as: scepticism; foundational, coherence and externalist theories of knowledge; apriori and empirical knowledge; idealism and realism; truth; and relativism.  These topics clearly do not figure in the discourse of globalisation where information, by contrast, merely finds its utility in the market.  With information then, there is something very different from what has traditionally been understood as knowledge. 

The new global economy is not just the universalisation of capitalism after the collapse of communism; it also involves the rise of finance capitalism, supported by the emergence of new information and communications technologies, and a series of agreements concerning the liberalisation of world trade.  The neoliberal paradigm for economic restructuring has dominated the policy agendas of most western countries during the decade of the 1980s with the abolition of subsidies and tariffs, floating of the exchange rate, privatisation of state assets, encouragement of foreign direct investment, and downsizing and commercialisation of public sectors.  The dominant philosophy of neoliberalism “has contributed to the formation of transnational legal regimes that are centred in Western economic concepts”[22] that themselves embody the micro-move towards contractualism.  The deregulation of domestic financial markets, the liberalization of international capital flows, computer networks and telecommunications have all contributed to the growth of financial markets.   It has been estimated that by the year 2000 the value of capital in financial markets will have risen to 83 trillion dollars, three times the aggregate GDP of the OECD (the 27 most wealthy countries).  Financial markets, rather than investments in production, now drive economies.  This effect of international finance is not new but there are three major differences from the past: the instantaneous transmission and interconnectivity of the information technologies; the concentration of market power in institutions; and financial innovations that increase the supply of financial instruments for trading.  The rise of electronic cash reduces the central banks control over the money supply because electronic money moves through computer networks, bypassing the information-gathering systems.  This leads to a disciplining function on national governments and pressures them to become accountable to the logic of the market.  Not-for-profit entities like AMAT are no exception. 

The move from knowledge to information

Recently, there has been a fundamental change in the ways that scientific, social, and cultural knowledge is being produced[23].  One of these configurations is the new informational economy that has emerged in the last two decades on a worldwide scale.  The emergence of a new technological paradigm organised around new, powerful and flexible information technologies makes it possible for information itself to become the product of the production process.  In other words, knowledge about human reproduction is being produced through technology.

In this new mode of information, research and transmission, the two principal functions of knowledge, have also been transformed by technical and scientific developments.  These developments are themselves based significantly on language as a game within computerised societies as they enter into what is known as the post-industrial age and cultures enter the Postmodern Condition[24].  Scientific knowledge now defines the object of study, but in seeking the truth it is obliged to legitimate the rules of its own game[25].  For the last forty years the 'leading' sciences and technologies have had to do with language.  The developments have had to do with: phonology and theories of linguistics, problems of communication and cybernetics, modern theories of algebra and informatics, computers and their languages, problems of translation and the search for areas of compatibility among computer languages, problems of information storage and data banks, perfection of intelligent terminals, paradoxology.  This list is not exhaustive.[26]  Science has played a leading role in technological developments that are constituted by, and are affected by, knowledge. 

Such technological transformations can be expected to have an impact on knowledge.  Cybernetics, for example, aids research by giving genetics its theoretical paradigm.  In terms of transmission of knowledge, miniaturisation and commercialisation of machines is already changing the way in which learning is acquired, classified, made available and exploited.  Knowledge can fit into the new channels, and become operational, only if learning is translated into quantities of information.  Along with the hegemony of computers comes a certain logic, and therefore certain sets of prescriptions determining which statements are accepted as ‘knowledge’ statements.[27]  This knowledge is exteriorised with respect to the ‘knower’ and becomes a commodity: it is produced in order to be sold -- it has exchange value.  Knowledge now as an informational commodity ceases to be an end in itself, it loses its ‘use value’.  In this respect it has become the principal force of production and has affected the composition of the work force.  The mercantilisation of knowledge affects the privilege that nation states enjoy with respect to the production and distribution of learning.  Since there are those who have ‘knowledge’ and those who do not, it is conceivable that knowledge will become the major stake in world competition for power.

Multinational corporations already have cross-national access to storage and control of channels of data and what counts as knowledge.  The State must therefore reconsider its relationship to civil society as well as to the large corporations.  The idea that the State can control or even guide investments for example, needs re-examining, which has implications for the restructuring of the State in New Zealand.  Lyotard[28] can visualise learning circulating along the same lines as money, where the pertinent distinction would no longer be made between knowledge and ignorance, but rather, as is the case with money, between ‘payment knowledge’ and ‘investment knowledge’.  If this were the case, communicational transparency would be similar to liberalism.  Liberalism does not preclude an organisation of the flow of money in which some channels are used in decision making while others are only good for the repayment of debts.  One could similarly imagine flows of knowledge travelling along identical channels of identical nature, some of which would be reserved for the ‘decision makers’, while the others could be used to repay each person’s perpetual debt with respect to the social bond.  Lyotard refers to this position as his working hypothesis that defines the field within which he considers the question of the status of knowledge[29].  It is also a working hypothesis that suggests a way for AMAT to interpret its objects. 

Technology and human reproduction

Andrew Feenberg[30] argues that explanations about technology fall into one of two major categories; instrumental and substantive.  Instrumental theories are the most widely accepted view of technology based on the idea that technologies are tools for human purposes, neutral in value, universally applicable, with their only problem being the use to which it they are put.   In this view, the only price for resistance to technology on environmental, religious or cultural grounds, is reduced efficiency.   The instrumental definition makes the problem of technology seem only a problem of mastering it.  A focus limited to the instrumental difference makes technology seem neutral, suggesting that there is neither good nor bad technology, only ends.  According to Heidegger this view of technology is a sinister phenomenon of modern life because whether we passionately affirm or deny it we are delivered over to it in the worst possible way when we regard it as something neutral; for this conception of it makes us utterly blind to the essence of technology[31].

In contrast to instrumental theories, substantive theories argue that technology constitutes a new type or cultural system that restructures the entire social world as an object of control; it has a substantive impact.  Unlike the instrumental view, technology seen in the substantive mode is part of life that subjugates humanity to itself.  Heidegger’s work The Question Concerning Technology explains the dehumanisation of modern society that he called the 'darkening of the world' where technology enters into the inmost reaches of human existence, transforming the way we know, live and will.  As the development in electronic technology continues it will become a mode of human existence.  It has even been said that technology has reduced us to the 'sex organs of the machine world'.[32]  If this construction of existence is a regular effect across cultures the cultural variety in the reception and appropriation of technology will not matter.  Accordingly, technology will continue to affect more and more of social life, and less and less will remain free to constitute a cultural difference.  Heidegger's substantive analysis shows modern technology with a determinate existence of its own -- a notion of a 'will to will'[33] beyond what Friedrich Nietzsche called the 'will to power'[34].  In Heidegger's theory of modern technology human agency is irrelevant, and the new technological developments can be seen as providing merely an illusion of freedom under a neoliberal rhetoric of utopian global economics that promises a new technological mode of being.  Although we cannot live without technology (and nor would we want to), we are vulnerable when it becomes our primary means of communication and, in the absence of agency, transforms us. 

How can AMAT address these challenges?

In response to these issues AMAT will restructure its capacity in significant ways, including:

         the establishment, funding and promotion of the AMAT Research Institute to formulate, promote, and carry out and disseminate research findings (of which the issues raised in this paper are part), and promote the educational role of AMAT;

         the development of an Adoption Resource Centre including the appointment of a paid Social Worker for counselling referrals and information

         research (including feasibility studies) to address the burgeoning discourse in adoption, including the Adoption (Inter-country) Act 1997 and New Zealand’s signing of the Hague Convention

         the provision of a governance and shareholding structure for the clinical operation for abortion, contraception education, and other aspects of women’s health under the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977, through its limited liability charitable company, AMAC Ltd[35];

         the development and maintenance electronically mediated communication and information technology to disseminate education and information, including its website: http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~amat/amat.htm

         the appointment and education of Trustees with capacities that enable them to address the issues that derive from the technological and other changes in national and international regimes such as the electronic technological imperatives, neoliberalism, globalisation and the 'informational' economy within which AMAT is implicated;

         increased AMAT administration capacity including the appointment of an executive officer;

         increased emphasis by AMAT on policy and research, especially into national and globalised developments; and

         the development and maintenance of functional relationships with national and international organisations.

References

[1] AMAT's objects are:

"to establish and maintain a comprehensive health and welfare service related to the human reproductive process and its control (whether by means of contraception, sterilization, abortion or otherwise) and to that end to establish, provide and maintain hospitals and clinics and surgical, medical, pharmaceutical, counselling and welfare services

to arrange and conduct lectures meetings and classes and to publish and disseminate literature and to do all other things to educate the public in the facts of human reproduction and the human reproductive process and of all matters concerning reproductive health and well-being physical and social" (AMAT Trust Deed).

[2] Hansmann, H. (1980). ‘The role of nonprofit enterprise’, in Oster, Sharon, (Ed.) (1994) Management of Non-Profit Organisations, Sydney: Dartmouth, 59.  Le Grand, J. & L. Robinson. (1984). Privatisation and the Welfare State. London: Allen & Unwin, p.6.  Smith S., & Lipsky, M. (1993) Non Profits for Hire: The Welfare State in the Age of Contracting, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 37. 

[3] Peters M. & Roberts, P. (1998). 'Introduction' in M. Peters and P. Roberts (Eds.). Virtual Technologies and Tertiary Education. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, p. 29.

[4] For a sample of this discourse, see: A Prospectus for the Western Virtual University (1996). http://www.westgov.org/ smart/vu/wvuprorp.htm. Bell, D. (1976). The Coming of the Post -Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting. Basic Books. (1973 original edition).  Block, F. (1990). Post Industrial Possibilities: A Critique of Economic Discourse. Los Angeles: University of California Press. Borgman, A. (1984). Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Borgman, A. (1993). Crossing the Postmodern Divide, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Castells, M. (1989). The Informational City: Information Technology, Economic Restructuring and the Urban- Regional Process. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.  Fitzsimons, P. (1998). Electronic networks and education in the postmodern condition, in Peters, M., and Roberts, P. (Eds.) Virtual Technologies in Tertiary Education. Palmerston North: The Dunmore Press, pp. 196-211.  Gee, J and Lankshear, C. (1994). ‘The New Work Order: Critical Language Awareness and ‘Fast Capitalist’ Texts’. In: Discourse: Studies in the cultural Politics of Education, 16 1: 5-20. Ministry of Education. (1994b). Education for the 21st Century. Wellington: New Zealand. Information Infrastructure Advisory Council. (1995) Common Ground: Fundamental Principles for the National Information Infrastructures. First Report (Http://stargate.con-ed.howard.e…chives/commonground.htm#access). Peters, M. (Ed). (1995). Education and the Postmodern Condition. Westport, Connecticut: Bergin and Harvey. (Forword by J-F Lyotard.). Poster, M. (1994). ‘A Second Media Age?’ Hinkson, J, G Sharp and D White (eds). ARENA Journal North Carlton, Australia: Arena Printing and Publishing, 3: 49-92. Lanham, R. (1993). The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology and the Arts. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Masuda, Y. (1981). The Information Society as Post-Industrial Society. Washington: World Future Society. Poster, M. (1990). The Mode of Information: Poststructuralism and Social Context. Cambridge, U.K: Polity Press.  Postman, N. (1993). Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books.  Reich, Robert. (1992). The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism. New York: Vintage Books.  Rosenau, P-M. (1992). Post-Modernism And The Social Sciences: Insights, Inroads, And Intrusions. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.  Touraine, A. (1995). Critique of Modernity. Trans. D. Macey. Oxford: Blackwell.  Vattimo, G. (1992). The Transparent Society. Cambridge: Polity Press. (Trans. David Webb).  Weedon, C. (1987). Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory. London: Blackwell.  Zuboff, S. (1989). In The Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power. USA: Basic Books. Harvey, D. (1989) The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Cambridge: Blackwell.

[5] See the literature on cybernetic organisms e.g., Gray, C. (1995). (Ed.). The Cyborg Handbook. New York: Routledge.  See also Wilkie, T. (1993). Perilous Knowledge: The Human Genome Project and its Implications. London: Faber and Faber. 

[6] “Poster (1993) argues that these matters and the restraints or enhancements upon them can govern with striking force the shape that societies take.  For him technicist approaches do not approach the heart of the matter, "the configuration of information exchange",  or as he calls it "the wrapping of language".  He argues that the configuration of language is an analytically autonomous realm of experience especially with the rapidly changing modes of electronic communication that not only alter but restructure networks of social relations and constitute subjects in very different ways to the personally autonomous agent of the second stage and any representational view of language.  Changes in the wrapping of language then alter the way meanings are derived, restructure social relations, constitute the subject in different ways, and alter the relations between subject and the world”. [Peters, M.A., Marshall, J. and Fitzsimons, P. (1999) 'Postmodernism and the New Theology of the Curriculum'. In: Lankshear, C., Peters, M.A., Alba, A., and Gonzales, E. Curriculum in the Postmodern Condition, New York, Peter Lang].

[7] Neoliberalism is a form of power relations.  It constructs the notion of the minimalist state through the legal, institutional and cultural conditions that will enable the artificial competitive game of entrepreneurial conduct to be played to best effect.  Entrepreneurial conduct requires neoliberalism to promote enterprise culture where there is a "generalisation of an enterprise form to all forms of conduct and the promotion of enterprise culture through invented forms" [Burchell, G. (1993). ‘Liberal Government and Techniques of Self’. Economy and Society. Special Issue: Liberalism, Neo -liberalism and Governmentality, 22, 3: p. 276].

[8] Peters M. & Roberts, P. (1998). ibid, p. 24.

[9] These practices are alive and well in New Zealand. See e.g., Murphy, L. (1996). ‘Zoo likely to go to trust, not private’. Wellington: The Dominion.  Murphy reports “the Wellington City Council is considering a charitable trust to oversee its zoo.  The Council could then distance itself from it, but still retain some control”.  See also Wolch, J. (1990) The Shadow State: Government and the Voluntary Sector in Transition, New York: The Foundation Center.

[10] Bolger, J. (1995a) Investing In Our Future: Towards 2010: Companion document to the 1995 Budget Policy Statement, Wellington: New Zealand Government.  Bolger, J. (1995b). Strategic Result Areas for the Public Sector 1994-1997, Parliament Buildings, Wellington: New Zealand Government.

[11] Bolger 1995b, Ibid p.3.

[12] “Yet it is also the place where our sense of ourselves, our subjectivity, is constructed.  The assumption that subjectivity is constructed implies that it is not innate, not genetically determined, but socially produced.  Subjectivity is produced in a whole range of discursive practices - economic, social, and political - the meanings of which are a constant site of struggle over power.  Language is not the expression of unique individuality: it constructs the individual’s subjectivity in ways which are socially specific... subjectivity is neither unified nor fixed.  Unlike humanism, which implies a conscious knowing, unified, rational subject, postmodernism theories ouf subjectivity as a site of disunity and conflict, are central to the process of political change and to preserving the status quo” [Weedon, Chris. (1987). Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory. London: Blackwell. P.  21)]

[13] Interpretation is the philosophical method employed to make sense of a ‘text’ (i.e., in the broadest sense, what we read, e.g., printed materials, film, art, computers, practices etc).  Technically, the method is called hermeneutics and has been documented as far back as the Bible.

[14] Foucault, M. (1977). Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews And Other Writings 1972-1977. (Trans. C. Gordon, L. Marshall, J. Mepham, K. Soper).  Great Britain: The Harvester Press.

[15] Sassons, S. (1996). Losing Control?: Sovereignty in the age of Globalization. New York: Columbia University Press. 

[16] Holton, 1998: 9-10.

[17] Sassons, ibid p.1

[18] The Adoption (Intercountry) Act 1997

[19] Castells, M. (1996) The Rise of the Network Society. The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Vol. 1, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers).

[20] Bowen, R. (1999) Visionaries flourish in knowledge revolution, New Zealand Herald, February 12, C2.

[21] Thurow, L. (1996). The Future of Capitalism: How Today’s Economic Forces Will Shape Tomorrow’s World. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, p.68.

[22] Sassons, ibid, p. 17

[23] The new ways are complex, hybrid, non-linear, reflexive, and heterogeneous.  It is a new mode of production of information as opposed to commodities.  It crosses disciplinary boundaries in that it contributes theoretical structures, research methods, and modes of practice that are not located on current disciplinary or interdisciplinary frameworks.  One of its effects is to replace or reform established institutions, practices, and policies.  Problem contexts are transient and problem solvers mobile.  Emerging out of wider societal and cognitive pressures, knowledge is dynamic.  There is continuous mutual stimulation between various nodes in a dense worldwide communication network.  As a result new configurations are continuously generated.

[24] Lyotard, J-F. (1984). The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. (Theory and History of Literature, 10). Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

[25] Lyotard, ibid p. xxiii. See also Foray, D. & Lundvall, B. (1996) The knowledge-based economy: From the economics of knowledge to the learning economy, in: Employment and Growth in the Knowledge-based Economy OECD Documents Paris: Oecd.  Peters, M. (1995). ‘Education and the Postmodern Condition: Revisiting J-F Lyotard’. Journal of Philosophy of Education. The Journal of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britiain, 29,3: 387-400.  Peters, M. (Ed). (1995). Education and the Postmodern Condition. (Forword by J-F Lyotard). Westport, Connecticut: Bergin and Harvey.

[26] Lyotard, ibid p. 3.

[27] Ibid p. 4

[28] ibid, p.6

[29] ibid p.7

[30] Feenberg, A. (1991). Critical Theory of Technology , New York: Oxford University Press. See also Ellul, J. (1984). The Technological Society. (Trans. J. Wilkinson), New York; Vintage Books.

[31] Heidegger, M. (1977). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. (Trans. with Intro. W. Lovitt). New York: Harper & Row, p. 4.

[32] McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding Media. New York: McGraw Hill, p.46.

[33] For an account of an electronic system that wills its own development independent of human agency -- i.e., its will to will -- see Fitzsimons, P. (1998). Electronic networks and education in the postmodern condition, in Peters, M. and P. Roberts (Eds.) Virtual Technologies in Tertiary Education. Palmerston North: The Dunmore Press, pp. 196-211.

[34] Nietzsche, F. (1968) The Will to Power. (Trans. W. Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale) Ed. W. Kaufmann.  Random House: New York.

[35] This has been in place since 1993.

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