Technocentrism is a value system that is centered on technology and its ability to control and protect the environment. Technocentrics have absolute faith in technology and industry and firmly believe that humans have control over nature. Although technocentrics may accept that environmental problems exist, they do not see them as problems to be solved by a reduction in industry. Rather, environmental problems are seen as problems to be solved using science and technology. They also believe in scientific research. Indeed, technocentrics see the way forward for both developed and developing countries, and the solutions to environmental problems, as lying in scientific and technological advancement (sometimes referred to as sustainopreneurship).
Technocentrism is often contrasted with ecocentrism. Ecocentrics, including deep ecologists, see themselves as being subject to nature, rather than in control of it. They lack faith in modern technology and the bureaucracy attached to it. Ecocentrics will argue that the natural world should be respected for its processes and products, and that low-impact technology and self-sufficiency is more desirable than technological control of nature.
Technocentrism may also refer to a worldview that revolves around technology. Many children today could be considered to be technocentric since that is the way they often learn new information and interact with the world.
Origin of term
The term was claimed to have been coined by Seymour Papert in 1987 as a combination of techno- and egocentrism:
I coined the word technocentrism from Piaget's use of the word egocentrism. This does not imply that children are selfish, but simply means that when a child thinks, all questions are referred to the self, to the ego. Technocentrism is the fallacy of referring all questions to the technology.
However, references to technocentrism date back well before this (see, for example and). Among the earliest references cited by O'Riordan in his book "Environmentalism" (which includes extensive discussion of ecocentric and technocentric modes of thought) is that of Hays in 1959 where technocentrism is characterised as:
The application of rational and 'value-free' scientific and managerial techniques by a professional elite, who regarded the natural environment as 'neutral stuff' from which man could profitably shape his destiny.
- Deep ecology
- Earth liberation
- Ishmael (novel)
- Ecological humanities
- Gaia hypothesis
- "Ecocentrism & Technocentrism".
- Seymour Papert. "A Critique of Technocentrism in Thinking About the School of the Future".
- O’Riordan, T. 1981. Environmentalism. Pion Books, London.
- O’Riordan, T. 1981. Ecocentrism and Technocentrism. (pp. 32-40) In Smith, MJ (ed) Thinking through the Environment. A Reader. Open University Press, Routledge and Milton Keynes, London.
- Hays, S. 1959. Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
- The dictionary definition of technocentrism at Wiktionary