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Science, Technology, And Society ... Of Consumption A Reflection

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Global Issues in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1085.1 - 9.1085.12



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Paper Authors

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Renato Carlson

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Renato Pacheco

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Lucia Helena Martins-Pacheco

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Walter Antonio Bazzo

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3661

Science, Technology and Society ... of Consumption A Reflection

Renato Lucas Pacheco, Walter Antonio Bazzo, Renato Carlson, Lúcia Helena Martins-Pacheco

Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina

Introduction In recent years, Science, Technology and Society (STS) studies have increased considerably in Brazil, especially in engineering courses, through the publications of books and papers, and with the work of professionals who are interested in studying this subject. STS typical approach frequently puts together the social role of engineers and the implications of technology in environmental changes, lifestyles of societies, and sometimes, in economy. However, to understand how a society works it is essential to analyze how the modes of production are organized1.

Therefore, considering the role that the economy performs in society, we would like to bring to mind one of its aspects, within the STS approach, which is consumerism. Here, the facet of society that we intend to approach is the society of consumption.

In a capitalist system, consumption moves the economy, i.e., commerce, industrial production, availability of employment or goods, investments, and so on. If, on one hand, it promotes more employment, enrichment of groups and development of nations, on the other hand, it can promote unbalance in the budget of families, generation of false needs, increase of waste accumulation, and even exhaustion of natural resources.

The points that we bring up are especially related to the harmful effects of exaggerated consumption and its consequences. This issue is complex and polemic because it takes an important part in the “economical equation”. And we believe that to consider several facets of this matter is a first step to find out solutions. Frequently, engineering courses are taught with a non-critical view of technology and science and its implications in economy and society. Thus, here we propose to show some negative aspects concerning the relation between technology and consumerism, which have been highlighted by some authors and by the electronic and press media, particularly in Brazil. More specifically, such considerations could enlarge students’ attitude towards this subject, providing them with a more critical view on that. We believe that any new solution has to go through an initial brainstorming.

Next, we present a conceptualization of consumerism and its consequences, Postman’s view of Technopoly and ethical and humanistic values that could help to find solutions. In the end, we make some considerations summarizing the main points that were approached. Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering

Carlson, R., & Pacheco, R., & Martins-Pacheco, L. H., & Bazzo, W. A. (2004, June), Science, Technology, And Society ... Of Consumption A Reflection Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13761

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