The Alternative Technology Movement: An Analysis of its Framing and Negotiation of Technology Development

Journal Article
Published In: Human Ecology Review

Technology mediates our relations with one another and with nature. Modern environmentalism recognised this from its inception. Alternative Technology (AT) activists called for innovations which would pre-figure ecological society. This paper analyses AT advocacy of technology. Using the history of AT, three issues will be explored: 1) the relations between conceptualisations of environmental problems and the kinds of technology solution promoted; 2) the interplay and compromises environmentalists must make with other actors important in technological development; 3) the limits to seeking technical solutions to fundamentally social problems. The paper concludes by exploring the hollow technology metaphor in order to capture the complex ways social actors advocate and construct technology. Hollow technology highlights how technology-fixes provide only temporary solutions to problems that are, fundamentally, questions about prioritising multiple social values that are always shifting and developing.