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Figure 8.1. On facebook does more than expand one’s one of friends from a couple of dozen come a couple of hundred. It transforms the means we communicate with our world. (Photo courtesy that Frederick M. Drocks/flickr)

Learning Objectives

8.1. Modern technology Today

Define an innovation and describe its evolutionUnderstand technical inequality and also issues regarded 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 function of various media, like newspapers, television, and brand-new mediaUnderstand the duty of product heralding in mediaDemonstrate awareness of the social homogenization and also social fragmentation that are occurring via contemporary society’s use of technology and media

8.3. An international Implications

Explain the benefits and concerns of media globalizationUnderstand the globalization the technology

8.4. Theoretical Perspectives top top Media and Technology

Understand and also discuss just how media and modern technology are analyzed through assorted sociological perspectives

Introduction come Media and Technology

How many good friends execute you have? how many world do you satisfy for coffee or a movie? How countless would you contact with news about condition or invite to her wedding? Now, how numerous “friends” do you have actually on Facebook? an innovation has readjusted how we interact with every other. It has actually turned “friend” into a verb and also has make it possible to re-publishing mundane news (“My dog simply threw up under the bed! Ugh!”) through hundreds or even thousands of civilization who might know you just slightly, if at all. V the magic the Facebook, you can know about an old elementary school friend’s brand-new job before her mother does. By thinking of everyone as fair game in networking for personal gain, we can now sector ourselves professionally to the world with LinkedIn.

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At the same time that technology is broadening the limits of our society circles, various media are also an altering how us perceive and also interact through each other. We do not only use facebook to save in touch through friends; we additionally use it to “like” particular TV shows, products, or celebrities. Also television is no longer a one-way medium yet an interactive one. Us are urged to tweet, text, or call in to poll for contestants in everything from to sing competitions to matchmaking endeavours—bridging the gap between our entertainment and our very own lives.

How does technology change our resides for the better? Or go it? as soon as you tweet a social cause or cut and paste a condition update around cancer awareness top top Facebook, are you fostering social change? walk the immediate and consistent flow of information mean us are an ext aware and engaged than any culture before us? Or room TV reality shows and also talent competitions today’s version of ancient Rome’s “bread and also circuses”—distractions and entertainment to store the reduced classes indifferent to the inequities of ours society? carry out media and an innovation liberate us from gender stereotypes and administer us with a much more cosmopolitan knowledge of each other, or have they become another tool in promoting misogyny? Is ethnic and gay and lesbian intolerance being supported through a ceaseless barrage of decimal stereotyping in movies, video games, and websites?

These are some of the inquiries that interest sociologists. How could we examine these concerns from a sociological perspective? A structural functionalist would probably emphasis on what social purposes technology and media serve. For example, the net is both a type of modern technology and a form of media, and also it links individuals and also nations in a interaction network the facilitates both small family discussions and global trade networks. A functionalist would likewise be interested in the manifest functions of media and technology, and also their duty in society dysfunction. Someone using the vital perspective would probably focus on the systematic inequality created by differential access to media and technology. Because that example, how can Canadians be certain the news castle hear is an target account that reality, unsullied by moneyed political interests? Someone applying the interactionist perspective to technology and the media could seek to recognize the difference in between the real lives us lead and also the reality shown on “reality” tv shows, such as the U.S., based however Canadian MTV production Jersey Shore, with up to 800,000 Canadian viewers (Vlessing 2011). Transparent this chapter, us will usage our sociological imagination to discover how media and an innovation impact society.

8.1. Technology Today

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Figure 8.2. Modern technology is the applications of scientific research to deal with the problems of day-to-day life, from hunting tools and agricultural advances, come manual and electronic ways of computing, come today’s tablets and also smartphones. (Photo (a) courtesy that Wikimedia Commons; picture (b) courtesy martin Pettitt/flickr; photo (c) courtesy Whitefield d./flickr; photo (d) courtesy Andrew Parnell/flickr; photograph (e) courtesy Jemimus/flickr; picture (f) courtesy digitpedia/flickr)

It is straightforward to look at the latest sleek tiny Apple product and also think that modern technology is only recently a part of ours world. Yet from the vapor engine come the many cutting-edge robotic surgery tools, technology explains the applications of scientific research to address the problems of day-to-day life. We can look earlier at the enormous and also clunky computers of the 1970s the had around as lot storage together an iPod Shuffle and also roll our eye in disbelief. But chances are 30 year from currently our thin laptops and also MP3 players will look just as archaic.

What Is Technology?

While most people probably snapshot computers and also cell phones when the topic of technology comes up, technology is not just a product that the modern-day era. Because that example, fire and stone tools were crucial forms of modern technology developed during the rock Age. Simply as the accessibility of digital modern technology shapes just how we live today, the production of stone tools changed how premodern humans lived and how fine they ate. Native the very first calculator, developed in 2400 BCE in Babylon in the kind of one abacus, come the predecessor that the modern-day computer, developed in 1882 through Charles Babbage, every one of our technical innovations are advancements on vault iterations. And indeed, all facets of our resides today are affected by technology. In agriculture, the introduction of devices that have the right to till, thresh, plant, and also harvest greatly decreased the require for hand-operated labour, which consequently meant there to be fewer countryside jobs, which resulted in the urbanization that society, and lowered birthrates since there was less need for large families to job-related the farms. In the criminal justice system, the capacity to ascertain innocence through DNA trial and error has conserved the stays of civilization on fatality row. The examples are endless: technology plays a duty in for sure every element of ours lives.

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

As through any innovation to person society, not everyone has actually equal access. Technology, in particular, regularly creates transforms that command to ever before greater inequalities. In short, the gap gets more comprehensive faster. This technical stratification has led come a new focus on ensuring much better access for all.

There room two creates of technological stratification. The an initial is differential class-based accessibility to an innovation in the type of the digital divide. This digital divide has actually led to the second form, a knowledge gap, i m sorry is, together it sounds, one ongoing and increasing void in info for those who have less accessibility to technology. The organisation for economic Co-operation and advance (OECD) specifies the digital divide as “the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at various socio-economic levels v regard to both their methods to accessibility information and communication an innovation (ICTs) and to their use of the internet for a wide selection of activities.” (OECD 2001 p.5) because that example, student in well-funded schools receive more exposure to technology than college student in poorly funded schools. Those students with more exposure gain much more proficiency, making castle far more marketable in an progressively technology-based project market, leave our culture divided right into those with technical knowledge and also those without. Also as we enhance access, we have actually failed to attend to an increasingly apparent gap in e-readiness, the capability to sort through, interpret, and process knowledge (Sciadas 2003).

Since the beginning of the millennium, social science researchers have tried to lug attention to the digital divide, the uneven access to modern technology along race, class, and geographic lines. The term became component of the typical lexicon in 1996, once then U.S. Vice-President Al Gore used it in a speech. In part, the concern of the digital divide had actually to execute with neighborhoods that received framework upgrades that allowed high-speed internet access, upgrades that mostly went to rich urban and suburban areas, leaving out huge swaths that the country.

At the end of the 20th century, technology access was likewise a large part that the college experience for those whose areas could afford it. Early in the millennium, poorer areas had little or no modern technology access, when well-off family members had personal computers at home and wired classrooms in your schools. In Canada we check out a clear relationship between youth computer accessibility and use and socioeconomic condition in the home. As one study points out, around a third of the youth who parents have no officially or only elementary school education have no computer system in their home compared to 13 percent that those whose parent has completed high college (Looker and also Thiessen 2003). In the 2000s, however, the prices for low-end computer systems dropped considerably, and also it appeared the digital division was ending. And also while the is true that net usage, even among those through low yearly incomes, continues to grow, it would certainly be overly simplistic to say the the digital divide has been completely resolved.

In fact, brand-new data from the Pew Research facility (2011) imply the emergence of a new divide. As technical devices gets smaller sized and more mobile, bigger percentages the minority groups are utilizing their phones to connect to the internet. In fact, about 50 percent of human being in these decimal groups attach to the internet via such devices, whereas just one-third that whites carry out (Washington 2011). And also while it might seem that the internet is the internet, regardless of exactly how you get there, there is a notable difference. Work like update a résumé or filling out a task application are lot harder top top a cell phone than on a wired computer system in the home. Together a result, the digital divide might not mean access to computer systems or the internet, but rather access to the kind of online an innovation that allows for empowerment, not just entertainment (Washington 2011).

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Liff and Shepard (2004) uncovered that return the sex digital division has lessened in the feeling of access to technology, it stayed in the feeling that women, who are accessing an innovation shaped primarily by male users, feel much less confident in your internet skills and have actually less internet accessibility at both work and home. Finally, Guillen and also Suarez (2005) found that the worldwide digital division resulted indigenous both the economic and also sociopolitical attributes of countries.