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A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology by Vincent F. Hendricks, Stig Andur Pedersen, Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis

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Chapter 60

European Politics, Economy and Technology

ERIK JONES

Technology plays an ambivalent role in European politics and economics. It is a source of modernity and progress but it is also a threat to tradition and to equality. Europeans celebrate the influence of technology on economic competitiveness and express concern about its impact on environmental sustainability. Technology has shaped the development of European political ideology, and it has threatened to undermine the legitimacy and overwhelm the capacity of the European nation-state.

Modern Europe is born of the technological advances which constitute the industrial revolution. The spread of industrial technology changed fundamentally the structure of the European economy and society in which it was embedded. New factories drew Europeans from the land into the city even as improvements in travel, communication and sanitation facilitated a gradual expansion of urban areas to match the new urban population. While dramatic and unprecedented, the transformation of Europe was less shocking perhaps than the impact of the industrial revolution elsewhere. The industrial revolution was grounded in Europe, and so Europe’s economic and political transformation moved at the pace of technological change. This pace was revolutionary at the time and yet contrasts sharply with the sudden introduction of “industrialization” outside Europe and the consequent urban explosion experienced by the developing world today.

Even within Europe, ...

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