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This paper sets out to discuss legitimization from a theoretical standpoint as part of mainstream analysis of scientific and technological production1.

Despite the fact that science and technology are clearly distinct forms of knowledge(the former basically concerned to explain phenomena, the latter designed to deliver physical and social dominion and control over nature), in this paper they will be examined en bloc with regard to their relation to a particular social praxis. The object of analysis is thus species of scientific and technological activity that combine these two forms of knowledge in socio-historical development.As a result, no specific branch of science or technology will be systematically surveyed. The aim, on the contrary, is to discuss scientific and technological activity in broad terms, greater emphasis being placed on technology.

Fields that patently involve a constant combination of the scientific and technological domains include fine chemistry, new materials, computer science (orcomputer technology, if you prefer), microelectronics, fiber optics and what has been loosely termed new biotechnologies.

Purely for the sake of illustration, biotechnology admits a dual approach: one more scientific, concerned with the study of basic issues involving Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Microbiology; the other more technological, the purpose of which is to obtain productsand processes with potential industrial and commercial applications. If, on the one hand, scientific research on new biotechnologies is wholly dependent upon sophisitcated equipment (electronic microscopes, computers and ultracentrifuges, to name but a few instances), on the other, the results of such research - which produces vaccines, hormones and proteins - are of direct interest to industrywhile also serving to advance technological development.

Resuming our initial proposition, the question of legitimization has been largely ignored or sketched over in recent studies on science and technology. Although many studies (both theoretical and empirical) in the fields of Sociology, Political Science and Law2 have touched on this issue, as a rule, the mechanisms and processes oflegitimization have received only scant consideration in endeavours to frame a theory on the production of technology.

Habermas, for instance, held that it made little sense to include legitimization in the generation of technology, which he conceived to be "self-legitimable" (confined to the systemic domain of society)3, since it was entirely geared to achieving efficiency and efficacy.Other authors, meanwhile, avoid referring to legitimization in the process of forging technology because they reckon it to be exempt from all forms of social conditioning (faith in neutrality where the production of technology is concerned).

The idea of directly associating legitimization with the "structure of technological praxis"4, which is to be developed in this paper, is grounded on anapproach that views technology not as a datum or a product, in its "final phenomenological form" (Sousa, 1980) but treats it, instead, as a process - a specific social praxis - determined by a number of different social structures and relations that encompass a host of conflicts.

This said, one can surmise that, by concentrating exclusively on the product of this praxis, one may well beneglecting the very element that would appear to contain the most promising aspect for a critique of the technological phenomenon in recent times: its internal process of transformation.

In an endeavour to highlight the social content of technology and the way it is generated (Sousa, 1980; Sousa & Singer, 1984; Sobral, 1988; Figueiredo, 1989; Trigueiro, 1987), the present study will seek to...
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