The Bigger Picture

It is clear that Douthwaite approaches the issue of the technological fix differently than either Johnston or Huesemann. The important part of that difference however lies not in the perspective of the writers but more so in the scope that each perspective allows. Both of the former authors not only discussed human nature as related to social science but they used the word “reductionism”. I think that these two authors, particularly Huesemann, would have critiques on the lack of credible mention that Douthwaite gives to social science. He does not look at the bigger picture regarding the interconnectivity of social issues with the world around us and how one may be effected by the other. Additionally, he fails to see the unending cycle of necessary improvement that is required to keep these issues in check which in turn leads to the question, what happens when we as a species peak in our ability to improve and innovate? These are the sorts of critiques I would see coming to Douthwaite out of the three pieces we read.


You are attempting to fix a leak in a pressurized system such as, let’s say, an old coolant line in an engine. Should you take it to a mechanic or duct tape the hose? Well duct tape is most convenient so you do that. Now what happens to that fix over time is relatively easy to guess, it weakens and wears out and as old lines do its likely to spring another leak. Such is the case of the technological fix to a social or natural issue. The reason we have negative repercussions from this method is twofold. Firstly, we are a part of the world we live in, we don’t just live on the globe we live within its systems and we have effect on them just as they do on us. Secondly, as in the previous example, though the wrong tool may appear to fix the issue it will inevitably make a bigger mess later on down the road. As for being a part of the world, I must bring up the point that Huesemann makes about population. The larger our population becomes the larger scale our problems and thus more extensive technology required to deal with them. This as you can imagine forces our impact on the world around us to increase at the same rate. And finally, as for unintended consequences, I believe that many social issues can be looked at through the lense of what we know of social science. The larger picture however is more complex because our society is built upon technology and to take that away completely would have catastrophic effects on our species. It should not prevent our trying to be proactive in solving our problems using the scientific knowledge that we have accrued over time, but it will continue to have impacts that threaten our own existence.

1 thought on “The Bigger Picture”

  1. Hi Chance!

    First of all, I thought this post was very well-written and it really made me think about the direction in which our society is headed. You took a very interesting approach in the way that you saw the two other authors critiquing Douthwaite: from the perspective of what kind of scope each covers with their ideas. I especially liked your mentioning of the technological fix as creating a never-ending cycle which creates more and more problems in need of fixing. I’m not gonna lie, this thought is quite overwhelming and your analogy about fixing a leak definitely helped to solidify it. I also think it would be a bad idea to halt any advancement of science because it surely has ways of benefiting us as a society and as individuals. Overall, I agree with you and I appreciate the deep understanding you have of the way the world works and how we should handle the future, even if this reality is difficult to come to terms with at times.

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