PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Threat or saviour?
A futures perspective on S&T attitudes

Richard Eckersley  

Public attitudes to science and technology are often characterised by ambivalence and contradiction. They are seen, at perhaps different levels and in different ways, as both a threat and a saviour. How people see the future may help to explain these attitudes, arid the factors influencing them.

A futures perspective highlights the extent to which people see S&T in a broad social context. This context changes markedly between their expected and preferred futures; what they expect and want implies different scientific and technological priorities and needs. For example, they expect to see new technologies .used further to entrench and concentrate wealth w and power; they want to see S&T used to create closer-knit communities of people living a sustainable lifestyle.

Drawing mainly on a recent ASTEC Youth Partnership Study of youth views of the future, the paper will discuss people’s hopes and concerns about S&T and how these both shape, and are shaped by, their broader dreams and expectations of the future. There are significant gender The paper will also consider several fundamental socio-cultural changes in western societies that could impact on attitudes to S&T.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.