Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article discusses the use of the term technocrat in its derogatory sense. For other uses of the term, see Technocrat (disambiguation).
The term "technocrat" in current usage refers to individuals with technical training and occupations who tend to perceive important societal problems as technological in nature, while proposing largely technology-focused solutions to the various problems. This term is mainly used by technology policy analysts who focus their research on the power struggles and conflicts of interest present when different occupational groups compete for societal resources and authority. According to this theory, originally introduced by the administrative scientist Gunnar K. A. Njalsson, technocrats are primarily driven by their cognitive "problem-solution mindsets" and only in part by particular occupational group interests. Their activities and the increasing success of their ideas are thought to be a crucial factor behind the modern spread of technology and the largely ideological concept of the "Information Society". This definition goes further than its predecessors in distinquishing technocrats from "econocrats" and "bureaucrats"- groups whose problem-solution mindsets differ from those of the technocrats.
In current usage, "technocracy" or "technocrat" often have a derogatory meaning. They allude to a form of bureaucracy where decisions are handed down by unelected officials chosen according to their real or supposed technical knowledge. The derogatory usage may also apply outside the realm of politics. In any case, the implications are that:
- the decisions lack democratic legitimacy;
- the decisions are often inadequate, because they are taken remotely and do not take into account the actual parameters of the situation;
- the decisions reflect the ideological biases of the supposed 'technocrats'.
For example, some may argue that many Chief executive officers are technocrats. They are not usually elected the leaders of a company by the employees, but by those that own the company and therefore lack democratic legitimacy. A CEO may make a decision, such as outsourcing or robotic automation of a factory, that is in the best interests of the company, but does not include non-technical aspects such as the loss of employees and their subsequent salaries.
The derogatory usage seems to stand in opposition, or at least criticism, to the technocratic movement. According to the technocratic movement, responsibility is given on the basis of competence or ability to complete a specific job. A job in a technocracy, such as foreign minister, would be given to a person who possess superior linguistic skills and knowledge of the foreign world. Those in favor of the technocratic movement criticize the current system, in which a political party nominates its supporters into position of political responsibility, though they may have deficiencies in their area of responsibility.
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