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appropriate technologies

appropriate technologies Because of the permanent over-supply of labour in contemporary developing societies, some sociologists (and economists) have argued that the labour-saving (often capital-intensive) techniques of production which are associated with technological innovation and development in the West, are inapplicable in most Third World contexts. Rather, the labour surplus suggests a bias in favour of labour-intensive and capital-saving techniques, exemplified in ‘appropriate’ (sometimes called ‘alternative’ or ‘intermediate’) technologies. The example of China is often cited in this context, since the particular combination of the factors of production in that country has encouraged Chinese governments to build roads using large numbers of people armed with shovels, rather than fewer people equipped with (expensive) bulldozers. All manner of goods and services can be produced by labour-intensive technologies, which offer full employment, self-sufficiency, and (possibly indirectly) greater equality. However, because capital-intensive methods of production promise higher net output and therefore higher rates of growth, they are often favoured despite yielding a lower volume of present employment. See also TECHNOLOGY.

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