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Mirages of Development: Science and Technology for the Third Worlds

Jean-Jacques Salomon and Andre Lebeau
ISBN: 978-1-55587-368-4
1993/224 pages/LC: 92-40754

"Provocative and insightful.... Offers a fascinating epistemological discussion on the nexus between technological and cultural change."—Canadian Journal of Development Studies

"Full of provocative but insightful statements."—Journal of Science & Industry Research


This lively book looks at the issues of development in terms that attack both the earlier idealism and the current mood of cynicism about the Third World.

Salomon and Lebeau consider why the great majority of Third World countries have failed to solve the problems of underdevelopment by relying on science and technology, while a very few of them—the newly industrialized countries—have at least partially succeeded.

Opposed to the smug optimism of scientific enthusiasts (though equally opposed to dismal prophecies), the authors argue that, while technological advances may speed the process of modernization in isolated instances, they cannot induce the social transformations that are a prerequisite of development. Scientific research and technological innovation can be effective, they conclude, only where social structures, institutions, and habits have first eliminated the "blocking factors" that are characteristic of traditional societies. It is also essential to recognize that less advanced technologies still have much to contribute to improving productivity and living standards and should not be neglected in the search for solutions.


Jean-Jacques Salomon is professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers (CNAM) in Paris, where he is director of Center for Research in Science, Technology, and Society. In 1963 he founded the Science and Technology Policy Division of the OECD. Andre Lebeau, a physicist by training, is head of the French Weather Bureau and is also professor at CNAM, where he teaches the social and economic aspects of space research. He was deputy director of the French Space Agency until 1975 and of the European Space Agency in 1975-1980.


  • No Shortcut to Development After All.
  • The Many Third Worlds.
  • A Basic Discontinuity.
  • The Contemporary Technical System.
  • The Science of the Poor.
  • The Looking-Glass Race.
  • The Machines from the North.
  • The Cathedrals in the Desert.
  • The Newly Industrialized Countries.
  • History's Revenge.