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Collingridge dilemma

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Title: Collingridge dilemma  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Technology assessment, Technology, Chemical engineering, Quantum technology, Exploratory engineering
Collection: Technological Change, Technology, Technology Assessment
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Collingridge dilemma

The Collingridge dilemma is a methodological quandary in which efforts to influence or control the further development of technology face a double-bind problem:

  • An information problem: impacts cannot be easily predicted until the technology is extensively developed and widely used.
  • A power problem: control or change is difficult when the technology has become entrenched.

The idea was coined by David Collingridge, The University of Aston, Technology Policy Unit, in his 1980 book The Social Control of Technology.[1] The dilemma is a basic point of reference in technology assessment debates.[2]

In "This Explains Everything," edited by John Brockman, technology critic Evgeny Morozov explains Collingridge's idea by quoting Collinridge himself: "When change is easy, the need for it cannot be foreseen; when the need for change is apparent, change has become expensive, difficult, and time-consuming." [3]


  1. ^ The Social Control of Technology (New York: St. Martin's Press; London: Pinter) ISBN 0-312-73168-X
  2. ^ Article by K. Böhle in TATuP, September 2009, pp. 121-125 (in German)
  3. ^ "This Explains Everything" (Harper Perennial, 2013, p.255, ISBN 0062230174)
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