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Nanotechnology alleged to aid patriarchy

We mentioned earlier the Harvard Business Review list of Breakthrough Ideas for 2007. Nanotechnology shows up again in another idea on the list — this one rather more controversial.

Phillip Longman observes that falling birthrates lead, over time, to an increase in families with more conservative values, because they reproduce more. Seems plausible. He then makes some extrapolations from this:

But patriarchy always makes a comeback, because its adherents put more genes and ideas into the future than do their secular counterparts. This process is already well under way in the United States…Employers will find it harder to lure women out of the home and into the workplace, simply because so many of them, having absorbed the pervasive cultural norm, will embrace motherhood and home life. Already the percentage of American women with small children and jobs outside the home is declining.

The new patriarchal family will value products and services that allow fathers to stay home as well. One example is eBay, which drastically lowers the barriers to running a home business. A combination of nanotechnology and biotechnology may allow millions of households to produce large amounts of the food, energy, and manufactured products they currently acquire from the global economy, thus restoring the traditional home-centered economic basis of the patriarchal family.

Well, maybe. Or maybe inexpensive home-based manufacturing will make it easier for family members to go independent. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. And as usual, these types of speculations have been made previously in fiction. —Christine

4 Responses to “Nanotechnology alleged to aid patriarchy”

  1. Delbert Coon Says:

    I try to forward many of these articles to my congressman. I hope that they will look at this technology when they are drafting legislation to see if solutions to problems may reside in this realm. Getting our legislators to look ahead and not seek old solutions is a challenge that the voters face.

    After I said all of this, a forward button would be appreciated.

    Delbert Coon

  2. SassaFrassin.com » Patriarchy and Home-Manufacturing Says:

    [...] NanoDot: Nanotechnology alleged to aid patriarchy [...]

  3. Sarah Elkins Says:

    I get Longman’s home-centered economics re-emerging from nanotech idea, but I wouldn’t leap from there to patriarchy (the opposite of which is not “secular”). Another pattern that could emerge is the reduction of compartmentalization of work versus family life. A family where everyone lives and works together may function quite differently from one where people go off in all different directions during the day. If they’re all at home, even if everyone at home works on different things (e.g., parents might be knowledge workers for different companies) as opposed to a single family business, their connections to each other may be stronger. Another pattern might be the lessening of compartmentalization of “business ethics” and personal ethics (the idea that what’s unacceptable behavior at home might be perfectly fine at the office, and vice versa).

    I see both the patterns I suggest are reductions of current patterns, as opposed to my having come up with bold new patterns. I’d be interested in science fiction which talks more about the sociological implications of personal manufacturing devices (I have read Charles Stross’s Singularity Sky, though that looked more at economic impact, and the devices were a little different).

  4. ConFigures » Blog Archive » Personal manufacturing and Penguicon Says:

    [...] I know there are a number of potential sociological and economic impacts once home fabbing takes off, but I enjoy thinking on the smaller scale about home craft (and cookery) applications. [...]

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