Concerning Educational Technology FAQ's

I open here, then, the possibility of thinking technology differently, of thinking it not as a result of the will to financial or political power but as a result of a will to social and collaborative power. However, there is another problem (or perhaps another aspect of the same problem) in trying to think technology differently. Technology is closely linked in the European tradition with science, and Donna Haraway presents a convincing argument that the hostility of science to women, people of colour, and people of lower social class is not accidental but intrinsic.

Haraway argues that initially, ‘the exclusion of women and laboring men was instrumental to managing a critical boundary between watching and witnessing, between who is a scientist and who is not, and between popular culture and scientific fact’ (Haraway, p.33), and she points out that the effects on those who are excluded from science for these reasons are profoundly disabling , that ‘to be the object of vision rather than the “modest”, self-invisible source of vision is to be evacuated of agency’ (p.32.) Our conception of science derives from historical experience, and this historical experience has been deliberately and systematically exclusive of those groups of people.

Consequently, science and technology are thought of in terms which are narrowly located and exclusive of women, people of different colour, culture or class to those of the Western European middle-class male who is the paradigmatic scientist, so that the problems are distinctively conceived as the problems of that sort of person – as a side effect of the impact of liberalism and its preoccupation with the male subject- that which Foucault described as ‘biopower’, without critiquing its masculinist tendency.

Moreover, and as a consequence, the solutions to these problems are likewise conceived as instruments appropriate to the use of that sort of person. The enthusiasm for scientific or technological solutions to social problems can be read as an enthusiasm for a particular kind of solution which will, because of the assumptions of its practitioners (researchers, inventors, developers, investors) necessarily privilege certain manners of thought and certain groups of users. To move this idea a little further away from persons (after all, middle-class, European men did not ask to be responsible for all the effects ascribed to them!), one could talk about a kind of sexually inscribed governmentality.

In all situations, some form of ‘biopower’ will be obtained. The characteristics of the dominant party may differ. It is the enlistment of rationality to the interests of a specific type/group/lifestyle and set of values that makes the position so hard to argue.