Book Review - The Information Society 16(3)

James C. Scott. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998

Reviewed by Richard O. Mason

Our modern information society relies heavily on science, technology and systems analysis. These tools of control are used to rationalize and simplify social activities, to make them more readable for decision-makers, and to direct them toward achieving society’s predetermined goals. But, the use of the tools of systems analysis often results in unintended consequences, many of them negative. Why? A recent book, Seeing Like a State, by James C. Scott, Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Anthropology at Yale University provides useful insights into the social and psychological dynamics that attend their use. Although written primarily for colleagues in his field, Scott’s book is also of value to any reader who is interested in systems or the functioning of the information society.

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