Science And Social Change
A RAHMAN et al, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN INDIA, Indian Council of Cultural Affairs, 1973, pp 236, Rs 30.
AN almost universal recognition of science as 'social' activity, in the sense that it not only affects society but is also affected and moulded by it, is of recent origin. This is not to say that science, prior to this admission, was not a social activity; an explicit recognition of this nature makes it necessary to view the development of science as a complex social phenomenon. Science itself must now be seen as a specific social institution subject to specific rules and hence capable of being planned. This recognition has gained currency largely due to the fact that science, via technology, has acquired a major role as a force of production in the contemporary world.
Recent scientific discoveries have given birth to qualitatively new technological processes, bringing into existence new branches of industry and lines of production. With the shortening of the interval between a scientific discovery and its practical application, the link between science and technology has been so firmly established that it is impossible to conceive of one without the other. The study of the specific relation between science and technology in specific social conditions provides a framework within which the achievements and failures of science and technology can be properly assessed.
Natural scientists and social scientists are agreed that science and technology create material conditions which necessitate a process of social transformation. However, the controversial point is the mechanics of this process of transformation. A much publicized school of thought advances the view that science and technology automatically bring about a social transformation. The concept of the 'industrial society' is characteristic of this approach. The iheorists of this school contend that so-called 'capita-