Book Review: Innovation and Inequality: Emerging Technologies in an Unequal World by Susan Cozzens and Dhanaraj Takur.

AuthorHoff, Samuel
PositionBook review

Cozzens, Susan, and Dhanaraj Thakur, eds. Innovation and Inequality: Emerging Technologies in an Unequal World. Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014. xii + 344 pages. Hardcover, $145.00.

Public policy expert Susan Cozzens and political scientist Dhanaraj Thakur examine the relationship between emerging technologies and inequality in this edited work, while reporting the results of comparative case studies tracing the costs and benefits of recombinant insulin, genetically modified corn, mobile phones, open-source software, and plant tissue culture on the economic well-being of eight nations across three continents. The editors were joined by a distinguished group of researchers, including consultants Isabel Bortagaray and Roland Brouwer, university professors Mario Paulo Falcao, Sonia D. Gatchair, and J. Adam Holbrook, postgraduate scholar Lisa A. Pace, UNESCO researcher Lidia Brito, and institute scholar Bernd Beckert. Using a broad definition of inequality, Cozzens and Thakur discover that the empirically-based case studies "in fact reveal a more differentiated reality than theory would suggest" (p. 8), thus calling into question previous conceptual literature.

The book is divided into four parts. After identifying problems and concepts in the Introduction, Cozzens and Thakur furnish overviews of the nations included in the study, which represent the Americas (The United States, Canada, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Argentina), Europe (Germany), and Africa (Malta, Mozambique). Though all possess a democratic form of government, the countries differed in size, national income levels, and science and technology resources.

Part II of the text contains separate chapters on each of the emerging technologies. Regarding recombinant insulin--the only one of the new technologies that makes the difference between life and death--it was found to be widely distributed in all of the nations studied despite constraints, albeit it was more accessible in advanced than developing countries. In the discussion of genetically modified corn, the authors note the vast difference in the regulatory approaches of the United States and Europe. Given that distinction, it is not surprising that researchers found uneven distribution in the nations where such a crop is planted. Pertaining to mobile phones, the authors indicate that penetration rates exceeded 90 percent in all of the nations studied except Canada and Mozambique. However, there are income disparities...

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