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A framework of attitudes towards technology in theory and practice


  • Kerschner, Christian
  • Ehlers, Melf-Hinrich


A trend analysis of Eurobarometer data shows that attitudes towards science and technology are diversifying in the EU, with enthusiasm clearly losing out to more ambivalent stances. In the past any diversion from unquestioned optimism was interpreted as a bad sign and attributed to the public's ignorance. Today it is often welcomed as a sign of an increasingly emancipated public. In the sustainability sciences, including Ecological Economics, attitudes towards technology also cover a wide spectrum, the formalisation and exploration of which are the goals of this paper. Drawing on social and philosophical studies of technology and insights from Ecological Economics and related fields, we develop a framework of attitudes towards technology consisting of four main categories: Enthusiasm, Determinism, Romanticism and Scepticism. We illustrate the empirical relevance of our framework with a qualitative content analysis of Ecological Economics lecture material. The analysis uncovered and mapped a diversity of views, which co-exist without an open debate. It suggests difficulties of scholars to consistently articulate their techno-attitudes, except for enthusiasm. Our framework could help to amplify underlying vocabularies and visions of research and teaching in Ecological Economics and beyond. It could be applied in both deeper qualitative and broader quantitative analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Kerschner, Christian & Ehlers, Melf-Hinrich, 2016. "A framework of attitudes towards technology in theory and practice," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 139-151.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:126:y:2016:i:c:p:139-151
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.02.010

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    2. Cristina Davino & Vincenzo Esposito Vinzi & Estefania Santacreu-Vasut & Radu Vranceanu, 2019. "An Attitude Model of Environmental Action: Evidence from Developing and Developed Countries," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 143(2), pages 811-838, June.
    3. Bauwens, Thomas & Hekkert, Marko & Kirchherr, Julian, 2020. "Circular futures: What Will They Look Like?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 175(C).
    4. Kaitlin Kish, 2020. "Paying Attention: Big Data and Social Advertising as Barriers to Ecological Change," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(24), pages 1-17, December.
    5. Davino, Cristina & Esposito Vinzi, Vincenzo & Santacreu-Vasut, Estefania & Vrancanu, Radu, 2017. "An attitude model of environmental action : evidence from developing and developed countries," ESSEC Working Papers WP1703, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
    6. Sára Imola Csuka & Tamás Martos & Mihály Kapornaky & Viola Sallay & Christopher Alan Lewis, 2019. "Attitudes Toward Technologies of the Near Future: The Role of Technology Readiness in a Hungarian Adult Sample," International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 16(06), pages 1-19, October.
    7. Heikkurinen, Pasi & Ruuska, Toni & Wilén, Kristoffer & Ulvila, Marko, 2019. "The Anthropocene exit: Reconciling discursive tensions on the new geological epoch," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 1-1.

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