chapter  3
20 Pages

The Six Cross-Cutting Concerns

ByJoe E. Armstrong, Willis W. Harman

The basic need for dealing with alternative societal contexts arises from the future-projection aspects of technology assessment (TA). TA's emphasizing physical technologies established alternatives largely on technical criteria and then supplied by intuitive means a consistent societal context to complete the description. There is a great variety of literature available on the subject of projecting alternative societal futures. The central problem revolves about finding a way to combine alternative societal futures and alternative technological projections into uniform descriptions suitable for impact and policy analysis. In TA's emphasizing management technologies, the choice of alternatives was limited by assumed policy options and societal normative goals, both of which usually, though not always, specified a general societal context. Societal attitudes and values, then, are a vital factor in projecting alternative developments of a technology. Seeking ways to promote, process, and present public participation remains one of the most perplexing aspects of TA methodology.