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Economic, Social and Political Concern of Energy in the 21st Century

Business has as its end the accumulation and use of power, only allowing technology to advance when it appears that the existing power relationships and the ideologies underlying them will not be significantly affected" (Harvey, 1994, p. 75). Institutionalists hold that orthodox economists should not perpetuate the myth that capitalism itself is the source of social progress. Rather, technology is the source of social progress, but the benefits of technology can be and frequently are constrained by the ceremonial institutions within a society.

From an institutionalist perspective, the formation of monopolies and the role played by the state in modern market-oriented societies constitute impediments to an effective contribution by technological innovation to cultural evolution (De Bernis, 1990). The evolution of technology is never a purely technical phenomenon as it is part of the broader process of social development.

Institutionalists criticize orthodox economics as being a social science without a conscious appraisal of the roles of culture, human behavior, and evolution in economic development. As such, according to institutionalists, orthodox economists risk becoming slaves to a "blind devotion" to their own models (Harvey, 1994, p. 69).

Veblen (1909) viewed the application of technology as a part of the cultural evolution of a society that involved ever changing institutions within that society. Within this framework existed two separate sets of institutionsłtechnological and ceremonial. Technological institutions included inventions, production processes, and technological innovationsłtechnology. Ceremonial institutions included laws (such as property rights), economic structures, social structures, financial structures, and so forth.

Within the structure of technological and ceremonial institutions, technology is a dynamic force that influences the cultural evolution of the ceremonial institutions within a soc...

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