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< prev - next > Social and economic development what is appropriate technology (Printable PDF)
The term technology is often interpreted as meaning machinery, equipment, or ‘hardware’.
Technology, however, is much more than pieces of equipment; it also encompasses 'software'.
Technology is a combination of tools (the equipment required to produce goods or services); of
techniques (the knowledge, skills and facilities required to operate those tools); of organisation
(the processes by which techniques are marshalled); and of products -the goods and services
which result from this process.
Ever since the discovery of fire, technologies
have been in a constant state of development
“Technologyto serve humanity's purposes. Men and
women have always sought to improve the
technologies they utilise, in order to fulfil
is determined
their needs for greater convenience, higher
productivity, improvements in the quality of
primarily by
life or increases in income. Technology is
determined primarily by need, and each
society has developed its own technologies in
order to fulfil its specific needs and wants.
In some cases, despite very differing contexts, technologies have developed along remarkably
similar lines. Traditional technologies designed to meet certain basic needs, such as farming
or fishing, construction or cooking, show a high degree of consistency across societies.
Advances in technology have stimulated developments in society, and developments in
society have led to advances in technology .The Industrial Revolution in Britain could not
have occurred without the technological advances of the Agricultural Revolution. The social
impacts of the Agricultural Revolution - the emergence of a surplus labour force, urbanisation
and the growth of the mass-market - paved the way for the Industrial Revolution. The
Industrial Revolution in turn led to advances in manufacturing, construction, transport and
many other technologies.
The level of technological development of a nation or a society is generally taken to be
synonymous with its level of economic and industrial development. The more sophisticated
and specialised the technologies available to a society, the more advanced that society is
considered to be, thus the example of cooking technologies, which are present in some shape
or form in every household in the world. The majority of households in the South cook on
open fires or simple stoves, fuelled by wood or charcoal, which are designed to meet basic
needs. Their use demands a great deal of time and effort, and a high level of organisation
and skill. In the North, by contrast cooks use much more sophisticated appliances fuelled by
gas or electricity. These are comparatively simple to operate, but maximise returns to labour
and allow cooks to satisfy a wide range of specialised demands.
Similarly, the manufacturing sector in the South is characterised by small-scale,
decentralised, low-cost, labour-intensive methods of production geared towards meeting the
needs of local markets. The North, on the other hand, boasts large-scale, centralised, highly
specialised, capital-intensive technologies designed to meet the demands of the
commercially led mass market. In economic terms, the technologies of mass production are
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