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

Learning Objectives

8.1. An innovation Today

Define modern technology and explain its evolution.Understand technical inequality and also issues pertained to unequal accessibility to technology.Describe the role of plan obsolescence in technological development.

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8.2. Media and modern technology in Society

Describe the evolution and current duty of different media, choose newspapers, television, and brand-new media.Understand the role of product heralding in media.Demonstrate awareness the the society homogenization and social fragmentation that are occurring via modern-day society’s use of modern technology and media.

8.3. Global Implications

Explain the benefits and comes to of media globalization.Understand the globalization that technology.

8.4. Theoretical Perspectives on Media and also Technology

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

Introduction to Media and also Technology

How many good friends do you have? just how many people do you accomplish for coffee or a movie? How plenty of would you contact with news about an illness or invite to your wedding? Now, how countless “friends” carry out you have actually on Facebook? an innovation has changed how we connect with every other. It has actually turned “friend” right into a verb and also has do it possible to share mundane news (“My dog simply threw up under the bed! Ugh!”) with hundreds or also thousands of civilization who could know you just slightly, if in ~ all. Through the magic the Facebook, you can know around an old elementary school friend’s new job prior to her mom does. By thinking of everyone as fair game in networking for personal gain, we deserve to now sector ourselves professionally come the world with LinkedIn.

At the very same time that modern technology is widening the limits of our society circles, assorted media room also changing how we perceive and interact v each other. We do not only use on facebook to keep in touch with friends; we additionally use it come “like” specific TV shows, products, or celebrities. Also television is no much longer a one-way medium yet an interaction one. Us are encouraged to tweet, text, or speak to in to poll for contestants in every little thing from singing competitions come matchmaking endeavours — bridging the gap between our entertainment and our very own lives.

How does modern technology change our stays for the better? Or go it? when you tweet a social cause or cut and also paste a status update about cancer awareness top top Facebook, space you fostering social change? does the immediate and consistent flow of information mean us are an ext aware and engaged than any culture before us? Or space TV reality shows and talent competitions today’s variation of ancient Rome’s “bread and also circuses” — distractions and also entertainment to store the reduced classes indifferent come the inequities of ours society? perform media and technology liberate united state from gender stereotypes and administer us through a much more cosmopolitan understanding of every other, or have they become an additional tool in fostering misogyny? Is ethnic and also gay and also lesbian intolerance being promoted through a ceaseless barrage of minority stereotyping in movies, video clip games, and websites?

These are few of the concerns that attention sociologists. How can we examine these concerns from a sociological perspective? A structural functionalist would probably focus on what social purposes modern technology and media serve. Because that example, the net is both a form of technology and a form of media, and it web links individuals and nations in a communication network that facilitates both small family discussions and global trade networks. A functionalist would also be interested in the manifest functions of media and technology, as well as their role in social dysfunction. Someone using the an important perspective would probably focus on the systematic inequality created by differential access to media and also technology. For example, how deserve to Canadians be sure the news castle hear is an target account that reality, unsullied through moneyed politics interests? Someone applying the interactionist view to an innovation and the media could seek to understand the difference in between the actual lives we lead and also the reality illustrated on “reality” television shows, such together the U.S., based yet Canadian MTV production Jersey Shore, v up to 800,000 Canadian viewers (Vlessing, 2011). Throughout this chapter, we will use our sociological creative thinking to discover how media and an innovation impact society.

8.1. Technology Today

Figure 8.2. Modern technology is the application of science to attend to the problems of everyday life, from hunting tools and agricultural advances, to manual and also electronic ways of computing, to today’s tablets and smartphones. (Photo (a) courtesy the Wikimedia Commons; photo (b) courtesy young name Pettitt/flickr; picture (c) courtesy Whitefield d./flickr; picture (d) courtesy Andrew Parnell/flickr; photograph (e) courtesy Jemimus/flickr; picture (f) courtesy digitpedia/flickr)

It is basic to look at the latest sleek small Apple product and think that technology is only freshly a component of our world. Yet from the vapor engine to the most cutting-edge robotic surgery tools, technology describes the applications of science to attend to the difficulties of everyday life. We could look ago at the enormous and also clunky computers of the 1970s that had around as lot storage together an iPod Shuffle and also roll our eye in disbelief. Yet chances space 30 year from now our skinny laptops and MP3 players will look just as archaic.

What Is Technology?

While most world probably picture computers and also cell phones when the topic of modern technology comes up, modern technology is not simply a product of the modern era. For example, fire and rock tools were vital forms of an innovation developed during the rock Age. Just as the availability of digital technology shapes just how we live today, the creation of stone 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, to the predecessor the 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 stays today are influenced by technology. In agriculture, the arrival of makers that have the right to till, thresh, plant, and harvest greatly reduced the need for hands-on labour, which subsequently meant there were fewer rural jobs, which caused the urbanization that society, as well as lowered birthrates because there was much less need for large families to work-related the farms. In the criminal justice system, the capacity to ascertain innocence through DNA experimentation has conserved the lives of civilization on death row. The instances are endless: an innovation plays a duty in for sure every aspect of our lives.

Technological Inequality
Figure 8.3. Some schools sport cutting-edge computer labs, while others sports barbed wire. Is her academic modern technology at the cusp of innovation, fairly disadvantaged, or somewhere in between? (Photo courtesy of Carlos Martinez/flickr)

As through any innovation to human being society, no everyone has equal access. Technology, in particular, regularly creates transforms that command to ever greater inequalities. In short, the void gets more comprehensive faster. This technical stratification has led come a new focus top top ensuring far better access for all.

There are two creates of technical stratification. The an initial is differential class-based access to modern technology in the type of the digital divide. This digital divide has actually led come the 2nd form, a knowledge gap, i beg your pardon is, as it sounds, an ongoing and also increasing gap in information for those who have actually less access to technology. The organization for economic Co-operation and development (OECD) defines the digital division as “the gap in between individuals, households, businesses and also geographic locations at different socio-economic levels with regard come both their methods to access information and also communication modern technology (ICTs) and also to their usage of the net for a wide variety of activities.” (OECD, 2001, p.5) because that example, student in well-funded colleges receive an ext exposure to technology than students in poorly sponsor schools. Those students with an ext exposure gain an ext proficiency, making them far much more marketable in an progressively technology-based project market, leaving our society divided into those with technical knowledge and those without. Even as we improve access, we have actually failed to resolve an increasingly evident gap in e-readiness, the capacity to sort through, interpret, and procedure knowledge (Sciadas, 2003).

Since the beginning of the millennium, social scientific research researchers have actually tried to bring attention come the digital divide, the uneven access to an innovation along race, class, and also geographic lines. The term became component of the typical lexicon in 1996, as soon as then U.S. Vice-President Al Gore supplied it in a speech. In part, the concern of the digital divide had to carry out with areas that received framework upgrades that allowed high-speed net access, upgrades that largely went to wealthy urban and also suburban areas, leave out big swaths that the country.

At the finish of the 20th century, technology access was likewise a big part that the school experience for those whose communities could bought it. Early in the millennium, poorer neighborhoods had tiny or no modern technology access, when well-off households had personal computers at home and wired classrooms in your schools. In Canada we check out a clean relationship between youth computer accessibility and use and also socioeconomic status in the home. Together one research points out, around a third of the youth who parents have actually no official or only elementary school education have no computer in your home contrasted to 13% the those who parent has actually completed high institution (Looker and Thiessen, 2003). In the 2000s, however, the prices because that 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 v low annual incomes, continues to grow, it would certainly be too many simplistic come say that the digital divide has been totally resolved.

In fact, new data from the Pew Research center (2011) imply the development of a brand-new divide. As technical devices gets smaller and an ext mobile, larger percentages of minority teams are utilizing their phones to affix to the internet. In fact, around 50% of civilization in these decimal groups connect to the web via together devices, whereas only one-third that whites do (Washington, 2011). And also while it could seem the the internet is the internet, nevertheless of exactly how you acquire there, there is a significant difference. Work like to update a résumé or filling the end a job application are much harder top top a cabinet phone than on a wired computer in the home. As a result, the digital divide can not mean access to computers or the internet, however rather accessibility to the type of online technology that allows for empowerment, not just entertainment (Washington, 2011).

Liff and also Shepard (2004) uncovered that return the gender digital division has lessened in the feeling of access to technology, it remained in the sense that women, who are accessing technology shaped generally by male users, feel much less confident in your internet skills and have less internet access at both work and also home. Finally, Guillen and Suarez (2005) uncovered that the global digital division resulted native both the economic and also sociopolitical characteristics of countries.

Planned Obsolescence: modern technology That’s developed to Crash

Figure 8.4. Human being have trouble keeping up with technological innovation. But people might not be to blame, as manufacturers intentionally construct products with quick life spans. (Photo courtesy of troy Kelly/flickr)

Chances are your mobile phone company, and the devices of her DVD player and MP3 device, are all counting on their products to fail. Not as well quickly, the course, or consumers would certainly not was standing for that — however frequently enough that you could find that when the built-in battery on her iPod dies, it expenses far an ext to settle it than to change it with a more recent model. Or you uncover that the phone company emails you come tell you the you’re eligible because that a free new phone since yours is a whopping two years old. Appliance repair human being say that while they might be addressing some machines that are twenty years old, they normally are not resolving the ones the are seven years old; more recent models are constructed to be thrown out. This is called planned obsolescence, and also it is the company practice of planning because that a product to be obsolete or unusable from the moment it is produced (The Economist, 2009).

To some extent, this is a natural extension of new and arising technologies. After all, who is going to cling to an enormous and also slow desktop computer computer native 2000 as soon as a couple of hundred dollars deserve to buy one the is considerably faster and better? yet the practice is not always so benign. The standard example of to plan obsolescence is the nylon stocking. Women’s stockings — once an everyday staple of women’s resides — gain “runs” or “ladders” after ~ a couple of wearings. This requires the stockings to it is in discarded and brand-new ones purchased. No surprisingly, the garment market did no invest greatly in recognize a rip-proof fabric; it was in their finest interest that their product be routinely replaced.

Those who usage Microsoft Windows might feel that they, choose the women that purchase limitless pairs that stockings, room victims of to plan obsolescence. Every time windows releases a brand-new operating system, over there are typically not many changes that consumers feel they have to have. However, the software application programs are upwardly compatible only. This way that when the brand-new versions can read larger files, the old version cannot read the more recent ones. Even the ancillary technologies based on operating equipment are just compatible upward. In 2014, the windows XP operating system, off the sector for over 5 years, stopped being sustained by Microsoft as soon as in reality is has actually not been supported by more recent printers, scanners, and also software add-ons for plenty of years.

Ultimately, whether you are gaining rid of your old product due to the fact that you are being offered a shiny new totally free one (like the latest smartphone model), or because it costs much more to solve than to replace (like one iPod), or since not law so pipeline you out of the loop (like the home windows system), the an outcome is the same. It can just do you nostalgic for your old Sony Walkman and VCR.

But obsolescence gets even much more complex. Currently, over there is a debate around the true cost of energy consumption for products. This cost would encompass what is called the embodied energy costs of a product. Embodied energy is the calculate of every the energy prices required for the resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, marketing, and also disposal the a product. One contested claim is that the energy expense of a single cell phone is about 25% that the cost of a brand-new car. Us love our personal technology but it comes through a cost. Think about the remarkable social company undertaken from the idea of production a cabinet phone with to its disposal after around two year of use (Kedrosky, 2011).

Figure 8.5. The joined Nations estimates that Canadians created 25 kg of digital waste per human being in 2012 (StEP, 2012). About 70% of e-waste is one of two people illegally disposed the or rudimentarily processed in poorer Asian and African countries. Workers in e-waste rescue operations are constantly exposed to toxic substances favor lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and flame retardants that are byproducts the dismantling components. (Photo courtesy the Curtis Palmer/Flickr)

8.2. Media and an innovation in Society

Figure 8.6. The modern printing push (as well as its dated counterparts) displayed the linked nature of technology and media. (Photo courtesy the Anuj Biyani/flickr)

Technology and the media room interwoven, and neither deserve to be be separate from modern society in many developed and also developing nations. Media is a ax that describes all print, digital, and electronic method of communication. From the moment the printing push was produced (and even before), technology has influenced how and where info is shared. Today, it is impossible to comment on media and the means that societies communicate without addressing the fast-moving speed of technology. Twenty years ago, if you want to re-superstructure news of your baby’s bear or a job promotion, you phoned or created letters. You might tell a handful of people, however probably you would certainly not contact up numerous hundred, consisting of your old high college chemistry teacher, come let lock know. Now, by tweeting or posting your huge news, the circle of communication is broader than ever. Therefore, when we talk around how societies engage with modern technology we have to take media into account, and vice versa.

Technology create media. The comic book you bought your daughter in ~ the pharmacy is a form of media, as is the movie you rented for family members night, the internet site you supplied to stimulate dinner online, the billboard you passed ~ above the method to obtain that dinner, and the newspaper you check out while you were waiting to choose up her order. There is no technology, media would certainly not exist; yet remember, an innovation is an ext than simply the media we space exposed to.

Categorizing Technology

There is no one means of dividing technology into categories. Whereas as soon as it could have been basic to classify developments such as machine-based or drug-based or the like, the interconnected strands of technical development median that advancement in one area might be replicated in dozens that others. For simplicity’s sake, we will certainly look at exactly how the U.S. Patent Office, which receives patent applications for almost all major innovations worldwide, addresses patents. This regulatory body will patent three species of innovation. Utility patents space the first type. These space granted for the development or exploration of any new and valuable process, product, or machine, or because that a far-reaching improvement to existing technologies. The second form of patent is a design patent. Commonly conferred in architecture and also industrial design, this method someone has actually invented a new and original design for a produced product. Plant patents, the final type, acknowledge the exploration of new plant varieties that can be asexually reproduced. While gene modified food is the hot-button problem within this category, farmers have long been creating new hybrids and patenting them. A more modern-day example can be food gigantic Monsanto, i m sorry patents corn with integrated pesticide (U.S. Patent and also Trademark Office, 2011).

Such evolving patents have actually created new forms of society organization and disorganization. Efforts by Monsanto to protect its patents have actually led to serious concerns about who own the food production system, and who can afford to participate worldwide in this new agrarian world. This issue was brought to a head in a landmark Canadian court case between Monsanto and also Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser. Schmeiser discovered Monsanto’s gene modified “Roundup Ready” canola cultivation on his farm. He conserved the seed and grew his very own crop, but Monsanto make the efforts to fee him license fees because of their patent. Called a true story of David matches Goliath, both sides are claiming victory (Mercola, 2011; Monsanto, N.d.). What is essential to note is that v the courts, Monsanto developed its appropriate to the ownership of its genetically modified seeds even after multiple plantings. Each generation of seed harvested quiet belonged to Monsanto. For millions of farmers globally, such a new market model for seed represents huge costs and dependence on a new and evolving corporate seed it is provided system.

Anderson and Tushman (1990) indicate an evolutionary model of technological change, in i m sorry a breakthrough in one form of technology leads come a number of variations. Once those are assessed, a prototype emerges, and then a duration of slight adjustments to the technology, interrupted through a breakthrough. For example, floppy disks were improved and also upgraded, then replaced by zip disks, which to be in turn boosted to the limits of the an innovation and to be then changed by flash drives. This is basically a generational design for categorizing technology, in which first-generation an innovation is a reasonably unsophisticated jumping-off suggest leading come an improved second generation, and so on.

Types the Media and also Technology

Media and an innovation have progressed hand in hand, from beforehand print to contemporary publications, from radio to television to film. New media arise constantly, such together we check out in the digital world.

Print Newspaper

Early forms of publish media, found in ancient Rome, were hand-copied onto boards and also carried about to keep the citizenry informed. Through the invention of the print press, the method that people shared concepts changed, together information can be fixed produced and stored. Because that the an initial time, there was a method to spread knowledge and also information an ext efficiently; plenty of credit this breakthrough as causing the Renaissance and ultimately the age of Enlightenment. This is not to say that papers of old were an ext trustworthy 보다 the Weekly people News and also National Enquirer space today. Sensationalism abounded, as did censorship the forbade any subjects that would certainly incite the populace.

The development of the telegraph, in the mid-1800s, changed print media almost as lot as the printing press. Unexpectedly information can betransfer in minutes. As the 19th century ended up being the 20th, American publishers such together Hearst redefined the civilization of print media and also wielded an substantial amount of strength to socially construct national and world events. The course, even as the Canadian media realms of Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) and also Roy Thomson or the U.S. Empires of wilhelm Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer were growing, print media also allowed for the dissemination of counter-cultural or revolutionary materials. Internationally, Vladimir Lenin’s Irksa (The Spark) newspaper was published in 1900 and played a duty in Russia’s growing communist movement (World combination of Newspapers, 2004).

With the invention and widespread usage of tv in the mid-20th century, newspaper circulation stability dropped off, and in the 21st century, circulation has dropped more as an ext people revolve to internet news sites and other develops of brand-new media to stay informed. This transition away from papers as a resource of information has actually profound effects on societies. Once the news is given to a big diverse conglomerate the people, it must (to appeal to them and keep castle subscribing) maintain some level of broad-based reporting and also balance. As papers decline, news resources become more fractured, so the the audience can pick specifically what it desires to hear and also what it desires to avoid. But the real challenge to print newspapers is that revenue sources are decreasing much quicker than circulation is dropping. With an anticipated decline in revenue of end 20% by 2017, the industry is in trouble (Ladurantaye, 2013). Can not to complete with digital media, huge and small newspapers space closing your doors throughout the country. Something come think around is the concept of embodied energy mentioned earlier. The print papers are responsible for lot of these prices internally. Digital media has actually downloaded lot of these prices onto the consumer through personal technology purchases.

Television and Radio

Radio programming obviously preceded television, yet both shaped people’s lives in much the same way. In both cases, details (and entertainment) might be delighted in at home, through a type of immediacy and also community that newspapers can not offer. Prime Minister Mackenzie King broadcast his radio blog post out come Canada in 1927. He later on used radio to encourage economic teamwork in solution to the farming socialist agitation against the abuses of capitalism both outside and within Canada (McGivern, 1990).

Radio to be the an initial “live” mass medium. Civilization heard around the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor as it to be happening. Hockey Night in Canada was very first broadcast live in 1932. Even though world were in their very own homes, media permitted them come share this moments in actual time. Unlike newspapers, radio is a survivor. As Canada’s worldwide renowned radio marketing guru terry O’Reilly asserts, radio survives “because that is such a ‘personal’ medium. Radio is a voice in her ear. It is a highly an individual activity.” He likewise points the end that “radio is local. The broadcasts news and also programming that is greatly local in nature. And through every the technical changes happening roughly radio, and also in radio, be it AM moving to FM moving to satellite radio and also internet radio, basic terrestrial radio survives into an additional day” (O’Reilly, 2014). This exact same kind the separate-but-communal strategy occurred with various other entertainment too. School-aged children and also office workers still conference to discuss the previous night’s instalment the a serial tv or radio show.

The affect of Canadian television has always reflected a battle with the affect of U.S. Television dominance, the language divide, and strong federal government intervention right into the industry for political purposes. There were countless televisions in Canada receiving U.S. Broadcast a decade prior to the very first two Canadian stations started broadcasting in 1952 (Wikipedia, N.d.). Publicly television, in contrast, readily available an education nonprofit alternate to the sensationalization of news spurred through the network competition because that viewers and advertising dollars. Those resources — PBS (Public transfer Service) in the united States, the BBC (British broadcasting Corporation), and also CBC (Canadian transfer Corporation), i beg your pardon straddled the limits of public and private, garnered a an international reputation for high quality programming and a worldwide perspective. Al Jazeera, the Arabic independent news station, has actually joined this group as a comparable media pressure that broadcasts to civilization worldwide.

The influence of television on phibìc American culture is tough to overstate. By the late 1990s, 98% of homes had at least one tv set. All this television has a an effective socializing effect, v these develops of intuitive media giving reference groups while reinforcing social norms, values, and beliefs.


The film market took off in the 1930s, as soon as colour and also sound were very first integrated into function films. Choose television, at an early stage films were unifying for society: As civilization gathered in theatres to watch new releases, they would certainly laugh, cry, and be fear together. Movies also act together time capsules or cultural touchstones for society. Indigenous tough-talking Clint Eastwood to the biopic of facebook founder and Harvard dropout note Zuckerberg, movies show society’s dreams, fears, and experiences. The film market in Canada has struggled to preserve its identification while at the exact same time embracing the north American sector by actively competing because that U.S. Film production in Canada. Today, a far-ranging number of the recognized trades job requiring apprenticeship and training room in the film industry. While countless North Americans think about Hollywood the epicentre of moviemaking, India’s Bollywood in reality produces more films per year, speaking to the social aspirations and norms the Indian society.

New Media
Figure 8.7. Twitter has fascinated the world in 140 personalities or less. What media development will next take the human being by storm? (Photo courtesy of West McGowan/Flickr)

New media includes all interactive creates of details exchange. These include social networking sites, blogs, podcasts, wikis, and also virtual worlds. The list grows nearly daily. New media has tendency to level the playing ar in regards to who is constructing it (i.e., creating, publishing, distributing, and also accessing information) (Lievrouw and also Livingstone, 2006), as well as offering alternate forums to teams unable to gain accessibility to classic political platforms, such together groups connected with the Arab feather protests (van de Donk et al., 2004). However, there is no insurance of the accuracy of the info offered. In fact, the immediacy of new media coupled with the absence of oversight means that we must be more careful than ever to ensure our news is comes from precise sources.

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New media is currently redefining details sharing in ways unimaginable also a decade ago. Brand-new media giants favor Google and also Facebook have recently acquired key manufacturers in the aerial drones market developing an exponential ability to reach further in data collecting and also dissemination. When the corporate line is benign enough, the implications are much much more profound in this greatly unregulated arena of aerial monitoring. With cases of furthering remote web access, “industrial monitoring, scientific research, mapping, communications, and also disaster assistance,” the reach is profound (Claburn, 2014). But when aligned with military and also national surveillance interests these brand-new technologies come to be largely exempt from regulations and civilian oversight.