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Title:Communication Technologies and Society: Causality and Intervention
Author(s):Slack, Jennifer Daryl
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Mass Communications
Abstract:This study critiques current notions of and perspectives on communication technologies in order to demonstrate that such are inadequate as bases for critical and comprehensive understanding of the relationship between communication technologies and society and as bases for effective strategies for technological intervention. Out of the desire to control technological growth and the effects--both beneficial and deleterious--of technologies, three approaches have assumed paramount importance: Technology Assessment, Alternative Technology, and Luddism. These three are examined in depth and their failings explained, in part, in terms of the concepts of causality embedded in their analyses and practice. In contrast to inadequate conceptions of causality--simple, symptomatic, and expressive--a theory of structural causality, as developed by the French philosopher Louis Althusser, is explicated. By utilizing a model of causality as structural it is possible to overcome the deficiencies of the previous models and form the basis for a critical and comprehensive inquiry into the relationship between communication technologies and society and subsequent strategies for intervention. By applying structural causality to a concrete instance--the relationship between patent law and the invention and innovation of communication technologies--this study demonstrates the explanatory power of a structural causal approach in analyzing the relationship between the social formation and communication technologies. On the basis of this analysis, the study concludes that the only effective strategy of intervention in the relationship between patent law and the invention and innovation of communication technologies is one that seeks as its goal the abolition of property rights in invention. The study concludes with a discussion of the consequences of using a conception of causality as structural for the concept of communications revolutions, and more specifically for the concept of the information revolution.
Issue Date:1981
Description:184 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8127693
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-05-13
Date Deposited:1981

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