Figure 8.1. On facebook does more than increase one’s circle of friends from a few dozen to a few hundred. It transforms the method we connect with our world. (Photo courtesy of Frederick M. Drocks/flickr)

Learning Objectives

8.1. Modern technology Today

Define an innovation and explain its evolutionUnderstand technical inequality and issues concerned unequal access to technologyDescribe the duty of planned obsolescence in technological development

8.2. Media and modern technology in Society

Describe the evolution and current role of different media, favor newspapers, television, and new mediaUnderstand the duty of product declaring in mediaDemonstrate awareness the the social homogenization and also social fragmentation the are occurring via contemporary society’s usage of modern technology and media

8.3. An international Implications

Explain the benefits and pertains to of media globalizationUnderstand the globalization of technology

8.4. Theoretical Perspectives ~ above Media and Technology

Understand and discuss exactly how media and technology are analyzed through miscellaneous sociological perspectives

Introduction to Media and also Technology

How many good friends carry out you have? exactly how many world do you fulfill for coffee or a movie? How many would you contact with news about disease or invite to your wedding? Now, how plenty of “friends” do you have actually on Facebook? modern technology has readjusted how we communicate with each other. It has actually turned “friend” into a verb and has make it feasible to re-superstructure mundane news (“My dog simply threw up under the bed! Ugh!”) through hundreds or also thousands of human being who could know you only slightly, if in ~ all. Through the magic of Facebook, you can know about an old elementary institution friend’s new job prior to her mom does. By thinking of everyone together fair video game in networking for personal gain, we can now industry ourselves professionally come the world with LinkedIn.

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At the exact same time that technology is widening the borders of our social circles, assorted media space also an altering how us perceive and also interact with each other. We execute not only use facebook to save in touch through friends; we likewise use it come “like” specific TV shows, products, or celebrities. Even television is no much longer a one-way medium however an interactive one. We are motivated to tweet, text, or speak to in to poll for contestants in every little thing from to sing competitions to matchmaking endeavours—bridging the gap in between our entertainment and our own lives.

How does an innovation change our lives for the better? Or go it? once you tweet a social cause or cut and paste a standing update around cancer awareness top top Facebook, room you promoting social change? go the prompt and consistent flow of info mean we are much more aware and engaged 보다 any culture before us? Or are TV reality shows and also talent competitions today’s version of ancient Rome’s “bread and circuses”—distractions and also entertainment to save the lower classes indifferent come the inequities of ours society? execute media and modern technology liberate united state from sex stereotypes and administer us with a much more cosmopolitan knowledge of every other, or have actually they become another tool in cultivating misogyny? Is ethnic and gay and also lesbian intolerance being advocated through a ceaseless barrage of minority stereotyping in movies, video games, and also websites?

These are several of the inquiries that attention sociologists. How can we study these concerns from a sociological perspective? A structure functionalist would certainly probably focus on what society purposes an innovation and media serve. For example, the web is both a type of modern technology and a form of media, and also it web links individuals and nations in a communication network the facilitates both tiny family discussions and worldwide trade networks. A functionalist would also be interested in the manifest attributes of media and also technology, and their duty in social dysfunction. Someone applying the critical perspective would probably focus on the organized inequality created by differential access to media and technology. Because that example, how can Canadians be sure the news they hear is an objective account the reality, unsullied by moneyed political interests? Someone using the interactionist view to an innovation and the media could seek to understand the difference in between the real lives we lead and also the reality portrayed on “reality” television shows, such as the U.S., based but Canadian MTV manufacturing Jersey Shore, v up come 800,000 Canadian viewers (Vlessing 2011). Throughout this chapter, we will usage our sociological creative thinking to discover how media and technology impact society.

8.1. Technology Today

Figure 8.2. Technology is the applications of science to address the difficulties of day-to-day life, from searching tools and farming advances, to manual and electronic ways of computing, come today’s tablets and smartphones. (Photo (a) courtesy that Wikimedia Commons; picture (b) courtesy martin Pettitt/flickr; picture (c) courtesy Whitefield d./flickr; picture (d) courtesy Andrew Parnell/flickr; photo (e) courtesy Jemimus/flickr; photo (f) courtesy digitpedia/flickr)

It is simple to look in ~ the recent sleek tiny Apple product and think that modern technology is only freshly a part of our world. But from the steam engine to the most cutting-edge robotic surgical procedure tools, technology describes the application of science to resolve the problems of day-to-day life. We could look back at the enormous and also clunky computer systems of the 1970s that had about as lot storage together an iPod Shuffle and also roll our eye in disbelief. Yet chances are 30 years from now our slim laptops and MP3 players will look just as archaic.

What Is Technology?

While most people probably photo computers and cell phones when the topic of technology comes up, an innovation is not merely a product the the contemporary era. For example, fire and stone tools were crucial forms of modern technology developed during the rock Age. Just as the access of digital technology shapes exactly how we live today, the development of rock tools readjusted how premodern humans lived and how fine they ate. From the very first calculator, developed in 2400 BCE in Babylon in the form of one abacus, come the predecessor that the modern computer, created in 1882 through Charles Babbage, every one of our technological innovations are advances on previous iterations. And indeed, all aspects of our resides today are influenced by technology. In agriculture, the development of equipments that can till, thresh, plant, and also harvest greatly diminished the need for hand-operated labour, which consequently meant there were fewer landscape jobs, which caused the urbanization of society, and lowered birthrates due to the fact that there was less need for huge families to occupational the farms. In the criminal righteousness system, the ability to ascertain innocence through DNA testing has saved the lives of people on death row. The examples are endless: technology plays a duty in absolutely every aspect of our lives.

Technological Inequality
Figure 8.3. Some colleges sport cutting-edge computer system labs, while others sport barbed wire. Is your academic an innovation at the cusp that innovation, relatively disadvantaged, or what in between? (Photo courtesy of Carlos Martinez/flickr)

As through any development to person society, no everyone has actually equal access. Technology, in particular, frequently creates alters that lead to ever greater inequalities. In short, the space gets broader faster. This technological stratification has led to a brand-new focus on ensuring far better access for all.

There room two develops of technological stratification. The very first is differential class-based access to an innovation in the type of the digital divide. This digital divide has actually led come the 2nd form, a knowledge gap, i m sorry is, together it sounds, one ongoing and increasing space in info for those who have actually less accessibility to technology. The organization for financial Co-operation and breakthrough (OECD) specifies the digital division as “the gap between individuals, households, businesses and also geographic areas at different socio-economic levels through regard to both their avenues to access information and also communication modern technology (ICTs) and to their use of the internet for a wide range of activities.” (OECD 2001 p.5) because that example, students in well-funded schools receive more exposure to technology than student in poorly funded schools. Those college student with an ext exposure gain more proficiency, making castle far more marketable in an significantly technology-based job market, leaving our culture divided into those with technical knowledge and also those without. Even as we improve access, we have failed to resolve an increasingly noticeable gap in e-readiness, the capability to sort through, interpret, and procedure knowledge (Sciadas 2003).

Since the start of the millennium, social scientific research researchers have tried to carry attention to the digital divide, the uneven access to technology along race, class, and also geographic lines. The ax became part of the usual lexicon in 1996, once then U.S. Vice-President Al Gore supplied it in a speech. In part, the problem of the digital divide had to execute with areas that received infrastructure upgrades that enabled high-speed internet access, upgrades that largely went to well-off urban and suburban areas, leaving out big swaths the the country.

At the finish of the 20th century, modern technology access was likewise a huge part the the school experience for those whose areas could purchased it. Early in the millennium, poorer neighborhoods had little or no modern technology access, when well-off families had an individual computers in ~ home and also wired classrooms in their schools. In Canada we view a clear relationship in between youth computer accessibility and use and also socioeconomic standing in the home. As one study points out, around a 3rd of the youth who parents have no formal or only elementary school education and learning have no computer system in their home compared to 13 percent the those who parent has actually completed high school (Looker and Thiessen 2003). In the 2000s, however, the prices because that low-end computer systems dropped considerably, and it appeared the digital divide was ending. And while it is true that net usage, even amongst those v low yearly incomes, continues to grow, it would be overly simplistic come say that the digital divide has actually been completely resolved.

In fact, new data indigenous the Pew Research center (2011) suggest the appearance of a brand-new divide. As technological devices gets smaller and an ext mobile, bigger percentages that minority teams are using their phones to affix to the internet. In fact, about 50 percent of human being in these decimal groups attach to the net via such devices, whereas just one-third that whites do (Washington 2011). And also while it might seem the the internet is the internet, nevertheless of how you obtain there, over there is a significant difference. Work like updating a résumé or filling the end a project application are lot harder top top a cell phone than on a wired computer in the home. Together a result, the digital divide can not mean access to computers or the internet, but rather access to the type of online technology that permits for empowerment, not simply entertainment (Washington 2011).

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Liff and also Shepard (2004) discovered that back the sex digital divide has diminished in the feeling of accessibility to technology, it continued to be in the feeling that women, who space accessing an innovation shaped primarily by masculine users, feel less confident in their internet an abilities and have actually less internet access at both work and home. Finally, Guillen and Suarez (2005) uncovered that the an international digital division resulted from both the economic and sociopolitical attributes of countries.