Good Essay On Sociology And Technology
Question 1: Using material from the required and supplemental readings, film clips, and lectures support one position. Explain the evidence for this position in the context of the connections between at least two of the following over the past 500 years: capitalism, science, Protestantism, monasteries, changing conceptions of time, and technology and work.
With reference to technological determinists, some developments in technical and media technology are the main cause of changes in the society. Technology is understood to be the main condition that describes the arrangements in social organizations. Technological determinists refer to technology as the main components that make or describe a society’s past, present and future. It is seen and believed that technological changes like mass and print media in some way changed the society to some degree. Among most societies technology was seen to be the main cause of the changes in institutions, individuals or socially (Quan-Haase, 2012). These new technologies are responsible for societal transformations at every level. Social and cultural encounters are believed to have been greatly changed by technology with human and social factors being secondary in the aspect of change (Jordan, 2008).
Karl Marx is regularly seen as a technological determinist by taking a look at some isolated quotes. In a book titled The Poverty of Philosophy, there is a quote that the windmill gives the society a Lord who loves fighting but a steam mill gives an industrial capitalist leader. Determinism is included as a classic of Marxism. However, some thinkers urge that Marx was not a technological determinist. The sight the many non-Marxist sources to justify their arguments. Some of these theorists include Leslie White and Harold Innis and have taken stern choices in relation to the technological determinism (Marx & Nicolaus, 1973).
Technological determinism is often associated with commentators who think of the future. This association is in regard to what the commentators refer to as microelectronic technology (Kaplan, 2009). Taking an example of Christopher Evans, who made a declaration that computer evolution would transform most societies globally in all manner of ways (Feist, Shukla, & Beauvais, 2010). In close association with these theories is another technological determinism feature where the representation of technology is autonomous. Instead of representing technology as an important part and a product of the society, it is represented as an independent force. This force controls, generates, determines and expands itself independently. Theorists view it as a factor that is not controlled by humans. It changes its momentum in a society that blindly shapes itself. It is in debt of some proven mechanisms like clockwork. However, even written information becomes autonomous once it has left the hands of it author. A clear explanation to this is that published works are subject to interpretation by readers where it is not directly controlled by the writers (Jordan, 2008).
Suggestions by Isaac Asimov are to the view that the technology trend as a whole is based on developing machines. These machines have an increasingly falling direct control and a growing control where they seem to have will initiation by themselves. The progress that is direct and that clearly moves away from direct or indirect control has enabled for the movement forward in technology. It also helps decipher situations that cannot be directly controlled but are still controllable compared to anything that they had a direct relation with (Jordan, 2008). He also suggests that technology may be out of control as it is influenced by the manner that technical developments may lead to side effects that cannot be predicted.
This theory of autonomy has been adopted by many theorists like Sociologist Jacques Ellul, who has published a book on the same. He declared that technology has developed to become autonomous. The world being unfair and balanced has fashioned technology to follow natural laws and that are opposite to many traditions. Complicated and complex technologies that are interdependent are shaped by technological changes rather than by the society. Of importance is the fact that autonomy is a major idea in western liberalism. It is understood that individuals that are autonomous can direct and govern their individual behaviors (Jordan, 2008). Autonomy, however, is majorly limited by social conditions and circumstances event in the political ideal context. This fact makes the idea of an individual being in charge of his law a difficult thing to achieve.
There are also declarations that there is no human autonomy when discussing technological autonomy. These declarations insist that technological autonomy reduces the impact of man on change (Fløysand, 1993). They compare human in technological autonomy to a slug that is being inserted into a slot machine. They also argue that technology is to a great extent shaped by the society and that humans always remain in control. Technology remains a mediating factor of human behavior and changes socially. These two are acted upon by other phenomena. Criticality when it comes to technological determinism does not call for overlooking the significance of technical features involves that include communication facilities. These facilities are important in facilitating different kinds of use even if the potential of technological applications is not fully realized (Fløysand, 1993).
Question 2b: Discuss the social issues that have been raised in the readings and class concerning the social impacts of these newly developing technologies. Compare these impacts with observations that have been made about the social impact of the invention of the mechanical clock and the printing press.
Mankind is in a dilemma on the impact of technology on daily activities. In particular technological advances, education and emergence of skilled and unskilled labor offer unforeseen opportunities for social development in a rapid manner. Challenges, however, arise from the lack of balance between resources and opportunities. Financial markets that have grown as a result of the changing technology have been taking up funds from investments in the economy. Levels of unemployment are on the rise as some of the new technology has replaced laborers due to their relatively lower operational costs (Turkle, 2011). Reduced employment results to falling consumer purchasing power and an overall economic decline. Some technologies that have been developed are a threat to the ecosystem and the inaccurate pricing of natural resources that may lead to overexploitation and wastes. New technologies have made the national level of governance have trouble when dealing with the problems at a worldwide level. Solutions to some of these social problems can be found with a deeper emphasis on the effectiveness of new technologies. The challenges have to be faced in a comprehensive manner and to develop an integrated set of solutions. Efficient utilization of available natural resources should be a priority, and there should also be a mechanism to regulate the development of new technologies (Boyd, 2014).
The mechanical clock was developed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and was widely used in major Western cities especially in Germany, Rome, and England. In these two centuries, the capitalism grew to a large extent. This growth led to the industrial revolution that took advantage of the clock to establish dominance in the society. The clock is a representation of machines in the mechanical age that influences technology and behavior of men. The clock was by far the first machine to fully make an impact on the lives of many men (Turkle, 2011). Time having been made measurable by the clock could now be traded among the men then. It has also resulted in the creation of a new official called the timekeeper who was regarded highly in the society. Factory managers defrauded their worker by negatively manipulating the time. They blew whistles or even changed the time at the factory clocks to achieve this unfortunate lie to the workers. Men who failed to conform to time setting were morally disapproved, and worker that reported late to work were fired. The timing of meals, train schedules, and work timetables were invented after the invention of the mechanical clock. Today these developments are still in place, and modifications to the clock are on the increase (Boyd, 2014).
Inventing of the printing press had huge effects on European civilization. This invention made it possible to spread information faster and more accurately. It led to the development and establishment of a society that was largely literate (Turkle, 2011). Printing press did not only help spread information, but it influenced in what way the information was spread. Many secular books were printed especially those that were of a scientific nature. A Scientist could now print their work after research and share the results with other scientists in a more accurate manner. This advancement led to the scientific revolution in the fifteenth century that altered how information was viewed (Baron, 2007).
Printing press also took book copying out of the church’s hands making it harder for it to control what was written and printed. The result was the major split of the Christians during the Protestant Reformation (Baron, 2007). People argue that the printing press was a significant invention that lay between the art of writing and the invention of the computer. It has been regarded by many people to be one of the most powerful inventions of the modern era, and it is still in place to date. The spread of knowledge has been influenced widely by the invention of print media before even the inventions of radio and television.
Printing media and the mechanical clock are by far the most significant inventions that affected the early civilizations. These inventions are still in use today albeit some modifications.
Baron, S. A. (2007). Agent of change: Print culture studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press.
Boyd, D. (2014). It's complicated: the social lives of networked teens. Yale University Press.
Feist, R., Shukla, R., & Beauvais, C. (2010). Technology and the changing face of humanity. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.
Fløysand, A. (1993). Approaches in studies of technology transfer: From technology determinism to society-technology dialectic. Bergen: Institutt for Geografi.
Jordan, T. (2008). Hacking: Digital Media and technological determinism. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Kaplan, D. M. (2009). Readings in the philosophy of technology. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
Marx, K., & Nicolaus, M. (1973). Grundrisse. London, England: Penguin.
Quan-Haase, A. (2012). Technology and Society: Social Networks, Power, and Inequality. Oxford University Press.
Turkle, S. (2011). Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books.