By buying a technological product the consumer commonly attributes the total creation and elaboration of the merchandise by the company owner of the brand engraved in the product. However, the application of a technology is a consequence of the construction of knowledge and realization of experiences developed by several actors, among them and assuming an active role, is the State. Mariana Massucato demonstrates this interface in the book O estado empreendedor: desmascarando o mito do setor público x setor privado. Thus, for example, by directing part of the public budget, drawing up legislative projects, opening financing bids for science and technology, public policies carried out jointly by the state and civil society enable technological innovation by actors other than private initiative.
Why are public policies needed to encourage technological development?
Information has always been socioculturally important. However, from the second half of the twentieth century, with the technological revolution, the possibilities of transforming knowledge and information into productive and educational power are strengthened. The economy had also been influenced by this context and informational capitalism, termed by Castels, was established as the new phase of capitalism. With the use of technology, the individual can carry out basic economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to work, education, dignified life and freedom of expression.
However, access to technologies has been asymmetric as it reflects the unequal level of wealth and schooling among ethnic, age and gender groups, preventing people from creating and organizing new forms of symbolic and material wealth that are fairer and dynamics.
The incentive to access to information and technological inclusion is carried out through public policies since this is one of the fields in which the State, under the perspective of positive action, realizes the rights guaranteed in the Constitution. It is proper for public policies to enforce the society’s interests, and, as far as technology is concerned, there are already three flows that favor the entry of the subject into the governmental agenda, theorized by John Kingdon:
1.Problem Flow: when the problem in question becomes evident and gains prominence, either by the publication of indicators or by the existence of a moment of crisis;
• Brazil appears in the 44th position when it comes to connectivity and preparation for the digital economy (GCI 2018), but occupies the 9th position in the technology market ranking (Abes 2017).
2.Alternative Flow or Solution: when there is a proposal defended by a set of actors to solve the problem in question.
• 28 entities issued a manifesto against the preliminary draft bill criminalizing the disclosure of fake news, demonstrating the organization and confluence of several agents’ discourse
3.Political Flow: when political conditions favor the entry or strengthening of an issue in the public agenda
• Personal Data Protection Bill Advance to Senate Plenary (Exam Headline 03/07/2018). This legislative agenda demonstrates the attention of the National Congress to matters involving technology and the internet
Does the state make public policy alone?
A simplistic analysis could lead one to think that the government must respond to a socially constructed and politically determined demand by developing a program of action and hiring a company or institution to carry it out. This is a top-down view of public policies that “emphasize government decision-making and planning, and the actors who implement the policies are only executors of the decisions that have been made.”
However, considering that the implementation of public policies involves a negotiation game, participation in the (re) formulation of policies by the so-called “street bureaucrats” – agents responsible for direct contact with the citizens affected by the policies and by the implementation of the action plan. Such agents are often members of civil society organizations (CSOs).
Despite the apparent approach to a neoliberal agenda due to the partnerships between state and CSOs, such partnerships do not show “less state”. In fact, alliances promote the structuring of
“a broader and more substantive public sphere: a public space that is truly public”
Tecnologia social e políticas públicas. Adriano Borges Costa (Org.). Tradução livre.
Such partnerships strengthen Celina Souza’s arguments, who analysis public policies formed by networks of key actors that articulate social demands. Within these networks, the actors communicate in order to promote or constrain proposals, with the purpose of deciding the investments and resources to be mobilized in order to implement a certain action plan. This would be a bottom-up perspective.
Partnerships with CSOs are also reflections of the emergence of the rule of law for two reasons that deserve attention. Firstly, in a global scenario, since the 1990s, due to the great investment and growth of the state apparatus – a social state of law – scarcity of resources has become a central issue in limiting the state’s capacity to respond to social area. Second, in the Brazilian context, after 1982, several sectors of society sought active participation in democratic agendas for the joint construction of a new state. Therefore, the convergence of the interest of civil society and state economic limitations favor the realization of partnerships.
Which technologies should be subject to public policies?
Certain public incentives may result in a higher concentration of income by financing large companies and not requiring compensations to society from the beneficiaries. The focus of public policies should be to maximize access to information and the possibility of technology’s replication. Social technologies, for example, have this claim. These are technologies developed for the solution of problems identified by the community itself and have the emancipation of the individual as the core. To learn more about the concept and history involving TS, click here.
As an example, there is the “1 milhão de cisternas” program, which, with government support and the ASA network – made up of more than 3,000 civil society organizations of different natures – have built more than 600,000 cisterns in Brazilian rural areas. The success of the program is justified by the cheap and easily replicated technology that opposes the idea of combating drought and proposes to coexist with this natural phenomenon. With the growth of the program, the interest of economic and political actors was aroused, and it was precisely the existence of a network formed by several agents in constant dialogue and negotiation that made possible its continuation.
In this way, public policies, instead of favoring the concentration of income, should prioritize projects that allow the creation and retention of both personal and organizational knowledge. If you are interested in issues involving technology and democracy, check out the latest text of #Mulheresnagovernanca on bots, fake news and filtering engines.
Many ideas discussed and written here are result of the Tecnologia Social e Políticas Públicas. — São Paulo: Instituto Pólis; Brasília: Fundação Banco do Brasil, 2013. A organização da publicação é de Adriano Borges Costa. The organisation of the book was realized by Adriano Borges Costa