Figure 8.1. Facebook does even more than expand one’s circle of friends from a couple of dozen to a couple of hundred. It changes the means we communicate via our civilization. (Photograph courtesy of Frederick M. Drocks/flickr)

Learning Objectives

8.1. Technology Today

Define technology and also explain its evolution.Understand also technological inetop quality and issues related to unequal accessibility to modern technology.Describe the function of planned obsolescence in technological advance.

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8.2. Media and also Technology in Society

Describe the evolution and also present function of different media, like newspapers, television, and also new media.Understand the feature of product advertising in media.Demonstrate awareness of the social homogenization and social fragmentation that are developing via modern society’s use of innovation and also media.

8.3. Global Implications

Exordinary the advantages and pertains to of media globalization.Understand also the globalization of technology.

8.4. Theoretical Perspectives on Media and Technology

Understand and also talk about exactly how media and modern technology are analyzed via assorted sociological perspectives.

Introduction to Media and also Technology

How many type of excellent friends execute you have? How many people carry out you meet for coffee or a movie? How many kind of would you speak to via news around an illness or invite to your wedding? Now, how many type of “friends” do you have on Facebook? Technology has actually adjusted exactly how we interact with each various other. It has turned “friend” right into a verb and also has actually made it feasible to share mundane news (“My dog simply threw up under the bed! Ugh!”) via hundreds or even thousands of human being who might know you just slightly, if at all. Thunstable the magic of Facebook, you could know around an old elementary institution friend’s brand-new job before her mommy does. By thinking of everyone as fair game in netfunctioning for personal gain, we can now industry ourselves professionally to the world via LinkedIn.

At the same time that modern technology is expanding the boundaries of our social circles, various media are additionally changing how we perceive and communicate with each other. We perform not only use Facebook to store in touch through friends; we also use it to “like” certain TV reflects, commodities, or celebrities. Even tv is no longer a one-means medium however an interenergetic one. We are urged to tweet, text, or speak to in to vote for contestants in every little thing from singing competitions to matchmaking endeavours — bridging the gap between our entertainment and our very own lives.

How does innovation adjust our stays for the better? Or does it? When you tweet a social cause or reduced and also paste a standing update around cancer awareness on Facebook, are you fostering social change? Does the instant and also constant flow of information suppose we are even more mindful and also involved than any culture before us? Or are TV truth mirrors and also talent competitions today’s variation of primitive Rome’s “breview and circuses” — distractions and also entertainment to keep the lower classes invarious to the inequities of our society? Do media and innovation libeprice us from sex stereokinds and carry out us via an extra cosmopolitan knowledge of each various other, or have they become an additional tool in promoting misogyny? Is ethnic and gay and lesbian intolerance being supported with a ceaseless barrage of minority stereotyping in movies, video games, and websites?

These are some of the concerns that interemainder sociologists. How might we study these concerns from a sociological perspective? A structural functionalist would certainly probably focus on what social functions modern technology and media serve. For example, the web is both a kind of modern technology and also a form of media, and also it web links people and countries in a communication network that facilitates both little family discussions and worldwide trade netfunctions. A functionalist would also be interested in the manifest functions of media and technology, and also their duty in social dysfunction. Someone using the crucial perspective would probably emphasis on the organized inequality produced by differential access to media and technology. For instance, exactly how can Canadians be sure the news they hear is an objective account of fact, unsullied by moneyed political interests? Someone applying the interactionist perspective to technology and also the media could look for to understand the difference in between the actual resides we lead and the reality illustrated on “reality” tv shows, such as the UNITED STATE, based yet Canadian MTV manufacturing Jersey Shore, through approximately 800,000 Canadian viewers (Vlessing, 2011). Throughout this chapter, we will certainly usage our sociological creativity to check out exactly how media and also innovation impact culture.

8.1. Technology Today

Figure 8.2. Technology is the application of science to resolve the troubles of everyday life, from hunting devices and also farming advances, to manual and electronic ways of computing, to today’s taballows and smartphones. (Photo (a) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; Photo (b) courtesy Martin Pettitt/flickr; Photo (c) courtesy Whitefield d./flickr; Photo (d) courtesy Andrew Parnell/flickr; Picture (e) courtesy Jemimus/flickr; Picture (f) courtesy digitpedia/flickr)

It is easy to look at the latest sleek tiny Apple product and think that modern technology is just freshly a component of our civilization. But from the steam engine to the a lot of cutting-edge robotic surgery tools, technology describes the application of science to attend to the troubles of daily life. We could look earlier at the enormous and clunky computers of the 1970s that had around as a lot storage as an iPod Shuffle and also roll our eyes in disidea. But opportunities are 30 years from now our skinny laptops and MP3 players will certainly look just as archaic.

What Is Technology?

While many human being probably photo computers and also cell phones as soon as the topic of modern technology comes up, modern technology is not just a product of the contemporary era. For instance, fire and rock devices were necessary develops of technology occurred during the Stone Era. Just as the availcapability of digital innovation shapes just how we live now, the creation of stone devices readjusted how precontemporary humans lived and how well they ate. From the first calculator, designed in 2400 BCE in Babylon in the form of an abacus, to the predecessor of the modern-day computer system, created in 1882 by Charles Babbage, all of our technological innovations are advancements on previous iterations. And indeed, all elements of our resides this day are influenced by modern technology. In agriculture, the arrival of makers that have the right to till, thresh, plant, and harvest greatly lessened the need for hands-on labour, which consequently expected tright here were fewer rural jobs, which brought about the urbanization of culture, as well as lowered birthprices because tbelow was much less require for huge family members to occupational the ranches. In the criminal justice mechanism, the capacity to asparticular innocence through DNA testing has actually conserved the lives of human being on fatality row. The examples are endless: innovation plays a duty in absolutely eexceptionally facet of our lives.

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

Just like any type of innovation to human culture, not everyone has equal access. Technology, in certain, often creates changes that result in ever higher inecharacteristics. In short, the gap gets larger faster. This technical stratification has caused a new focus on ensuring much better access for all.

Tright here are two develops of technological stratification. The first is differential class-based access to technology in the develop of the digital divide. This digital divide has resulted in the second develop, a knowledge gap, which is, as it sounds, an continuous and also enhancing gap in information for those that have much less accessibility to technology. The Organisation for Economic Co-procedure and also Development (OECD) specifies the digital divide as “the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at various socio-economic levels through regard to both their methods to accessibility information and interaction technology (ICTs) and also to their usage of the Internet for a broad variety of tasks.” (OECD, 2001, p.5) For example, students in well-funded schools receive more expocertain to modern technology than students in poorly funded institutions. Those students via more exposure gain even more proficiency, making them far more marketable in an increasingly technology-based task sector, leaving our society divided into those through technical understanding and those without. Even as we boost accessibility, we have faicaused address an significantly apparent gap in e-readiness, the capability to sort through, translate, and process expertise (Sciadas, 2003).

Since the beginning of the millennium, social science researchers have tried to bring attention to the digital divide, the unalso access to modern technology along race, course, and geographical lines. The term became component of the widespread lexsymbol in 1996, once then UNITED STATE Vice-President Al Gore supplied it in a speech. In part, the problem of the digital divide had to carry out via areas that got framework upqualities that permitted high-rate internet accessibility, upgrades that mostly visited affluent urban and also submetropolitan locations, leaving out large swaths of the nation.

At the finish of the 20th century, innovation access was also a big component of the college endure for those whose communities can afford it. Early in the millennium, poorer communities had actually little or no technology accessibility, while well-off families had individual computer systems at house and wired classrooms in their schools. In Canada we view a clear relationship between youth computer system accessibility and also usage and sociofinancial status in the residence. As one study points out, around a 3rd of the youth whose paleas have actually no formal or only elementary college education have actually no computer system in their residence compared to 13% of those whose parent has actually completed high institution (Looker and also Thiessen, 2003). In the 2000s, but, the prices for low-end computers dropped considerably, and it showed up the digital divide was ending. And while it is true that internet usage, also among those via low annual incomes, proceeds to thrive, it would certainly be overly simplistic to say that the digital divide has been totally readdressed.

In fact, new information from the Pew Research Center (2011) indicate the development of a brand-new divide. As technological tools gets smaller and also more mobile, bigger percentperiods of minority teams are making use of their phones to attach to the internet. In fact, around 50% of human being in these minority groups affix to the internet using such tools, whereas only one-3rd of whites do (Washington, 2011). And while it could seem that the internet is the internet, regardmuch less of just how you acquire tbelow, tbelow is a significant distinction. Tasks favor updating a résumé or filling out a project application are much harder on a cell phone than on a wired computer system in the residence. As a result, the digital divide might not expect access to computer systems or the internet, but fairly accessibility to the sort of virtual innovation that enables for empowerment, not simply entertainment (Washington, 2011).

Liff and also Shepard (2004) discovered that although the sex digital divide has actually reduced in the feeling of access to modern technology, it continued to be in the sense that woguys, who are accessing modern technology shaped generally by male users, feel less confident in their internet skills and have less internet access at both work and residence. Finally, Guillen and also Suarez (2005) found that the global digital divide resulted from both the economic and also sociopolitical qualities of countries.

Planned Obsolescence: Technology That’s Built to Crash

Figure 8.4. People have trouble keeping up through technical creation. But people might not be to blame, as manufacturers deliberately develop commodities via brief life spans. (Photograph courtesy of Troy Kelly/flickr)

Chances are your mobile phone agency, and the makers of your DVD player and also MP3 device, are all counting on their products to fail. Not too conveniently, of course, or consumers would not stand also for it — however frequently sufficient that you can discover that as soon as the built-in battery on your iPod dies, it expenses far more to deal with it than to relocation it through a newer design. Or you find that the phone company emails you to tell you that you’re eligible for a totally free brand-new phone because yours is a whopping two years old. Appliance repair civilization say that while they might be fixing some devices that are twenty years old, they primarily are not fixing the ones that are salso years old; newer models are developed to be thrvery own out. This is called planned obsolescence, and it is the company exercise of planning for a product to be obsolete or unusable from the time it is created (The Economist, 2009).

To some level, this is a natural extension of new and arising innovations. After all, who is going to cling to an enormous and slow-moving desktop computer system from 2000 when a few hundred dollars can buy one that is substantially much faster and also better? But the exercise is not always so benign. The timeless example of planned obsolescence is the nylon stocking. Women’s stocemperors — once an day-to-day staple of women’s lives — get “runs” or “ladders” after a few wearings. This requires the stocmonarchs to be discarded and brand-new ones purchased. Not surprisingly, the garment industry did not invest heavily in finding a rip-proof fabric; it was in their best interemainder that their product be frequently reput.

Those that use Microsoft Windows could feel that they, prefer the women who purchase endless pairs of stocqueens, are victims of planned obsolescence. Every time Windows releases a brand-new operating system, tbelow are frequently not many changes that consumers feel they have to have actually. However before, the software programs are upwardly compatible just. This suggests that while the new versions deserve to read older papers, the old version cannot review the more recent ones. Even the ancillary modern technologies based upon operating systems are only compatible upward. In 2014, the Windows XP operating mechanism, off the industry for over five years, stopped being sustained by Microsoft as soon as in reality is has not been supported by newer printers, scanners, and software program add-ons for many kind of years.

Eventually, whether you are obtaining rid of your old product bereason you are being readily available a shiny new cost-free one (like the latest smartphone model), or bereason it costs even more to solve than to relocation (like an iPod), or because not doing so leaves you out of the loop (choose the Windows system), the result is the very same. It might just make you nostalgic for your old Sony Walkguy and also VCR.

But obsolescence gets even even more complicated. Right now, there is a dispute about the true price of energy usage for products. This cost would certainly encompass what is referred to as the embodied energy expenses of a product. Embopassed away energy is the calculation of all the power prices required for the reresource extraction, production, transport, marketing, and also disposal of a product. One disputed case is that the power cost of a single cell phone is about 25% of the cost of a new vehicle. We love our individual modern technology but it comes with a expense. Think about the remarkable social company undertaken from the idea of production a cell phone via to its disposal after around 2 years of use (Kedrosky, 2011).

Figure 8.5. The United Nations estimates that Canadians generated 25 kg of electronic waste per perkid in 2012 (StEP, 2012). About 70% of e-waste is either illegally disposed of or rudimentarily processed in poorer Oriental and Afrihave the right to countries. Workers in e-waste salvage operations are constantly exposed to toxic substances choose lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and also flame retardants that are byproducts of dismantling components. (Photo courtesy of Curtis Palmer/Flickr)

8.2. Media and also Technology in Society

Figure 8.6. The modern-day printing push (and also its dated counterparts) embodies the intertwined nature of technology and media. (Photograph courtesy of Anuj Biyani/flickr)

Technology and also the media are interwcooktop, and also neither can be separated from contemporary culture in most arisen and arising countries. Media is a term that describes all print, digital, and also digital means of interaction. From the moment the printing press was created (and also even before), technology has actually affected just how and where indevelopment is shared. Today, it is impossible to talk about media and the means that cultures interact without addressing the fast-moving pace of modern technology. Twenty years ago, if you wanted to share news of your baby’s birth or a job promovement, you phoned or created letters. You could tell a handful of people, yet most likely you would certainly not contact up a number of hundred, including your old high college chemisattempt teacher, to let them understand. Now, by tweeting or posting your huge news, the circle of interaction is bigger than ever before. As such, as soon as we talk around how cultures communicate via modern technology we need to take media into account, and also vice versa.

Technology creates media. The comic book you bought your daughter at the drugkeep is a form of media, as is the movie you rented for family night, the internet site you provided to order dinner digital, the billboard you passed on the way to get that dinner, and the newspaper you read while you were waiting to pick up your order. Without modern technology, media would certainly not exist; however remember, technology is more than just the media we are exposed to.

Categorizing Technology

There is no one method of separating innovation into categories. Whereas as soon as it could have actually been simple to classify inventions such as machine-based or drug-based or the prefer, the interconnected strands of technical breakthrough expect that breakthrough in one area might be replicated in dozens of others. For simplicity’s sake, we will certainly look at just how the U.S. Patent Office, which receives patent applications for nearly all significant developments international, addresses patents. This regulatory body will patent three types of invention. Utility patents are the first type. These are granted for the creation or discovery of any kind of new and also advantageous procedure, product, or machine, or for a significant development to existing modern technologies. The second form of patent is a style patent. Commjust conferred in style and industrial design, this implies someone has developed a brand-new and original design for a made product. Plant patents, the final kind, acknowledge the discovery of new plant forms that deserve to be asexually recreated. While genetically modified food is the hot-button issue within this category, farmers have actually long been creating new hybrids and patenting them. An even more contemporary example might be food giant Monsanto, which patents corn with integrated pesticide (U.S. Patent and also Tradenote Office, 2011).

Such evolving patents have developed brand-new forms of social organization and also discompany. Efforts by Monsanto to protect its patents have brought about significant pertains to about who owns the food production device, and who can afford to get involved globally in this new agrarian people. This issue was brought to a head in a landmark Canadian court instance between Monsanto and Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser. Schmeiser discovered Monsanto’s genetically modified “Roundup Ready” canola prospering on his farm. He conserved the seed and also prospered his own crop, yet Monsanto tried to charge him licensing fees bereason of their patent. Dubbed a true tale of David versus Goliath, both sides are claiming victory (Mercola, 2011; Monsanto, N.d.). What is essential to note is that with the courts, Monsanto establimelted its ideal to the ownership of its genetically modified seeds also after multiple plantings. Each generation of seeds harvested still belonged to Monsanto. For numerous farmers worldwide, such a new sector model for seeds represents expensive prices and dependence on a brand-new and evolving corporate seed supply system.

Anderboy and Tushguy (1990) suggest an evolutionary design of technical change, in which a breakwith in one develop of technology leads to a number of variations. Once those are assessed, a protokind emerges, and then a duration of slight adjustments to the innovation, interrupted by a breakthrough. For instance, floppy disks were enhanced and upgraded, then reinserted by zip disks, which were in turn boosted to the limits of the technology and also were then replaced by flash drives. This is basically a generational design for categorizing innovation, in which first-generation modern technology is a relatively uninnovative jumping-off allude leading to an enhanced second generation, and also so on.

Types of Media and Technology

Media and modern technology have evolved hand in hand, from early print to modern-day publications, from radio to television to film. New media arise constantly, such as we see in the online human being.

Publish Newspaper

Early forms of print media, found in primitive Rome, were hand-duplicated onto boards and carried approximately to keep the citizenry informed. With the development of the printing push, the means that civilization mutual principles readjusted, as information might be mass created and stored. For the initially time, there was a way to spreview knowledge and also information more efficiently; many type of credit this breakthrough as bring about the Renaissance and inevitably the Era of Knowledge. This is not to say that newsdocuments of old were more reliable than the Weekly World News and National Enquirer are this day. Sensationalism abounded, as did censorship that forbade any type of topics that would incite the populace.

The creation of the telegraph, in the mid-1800s, changed print media nearly as a lot as the printing push. Suddenly information can be transmitted in minutes. As the 19th century ended up being the 20th, Amerideserve to publishers such as Hearst reidentified the world of print media and also wielded an substantial amount of power to socially construct nationwide and people occasions. Of course, even as the Canadian media realms of Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) and Roy Thomkid or the U.S. empires of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer were thriving, print media also permitted for the circulation of counter-social or revolutionary products. Internationally, Vladimir Lenin’s Irksa (The Spark) newspaper was publiburned in 1900 and also played a duty in Russia’s growing communist activity (World Association of Newsdocuments, 2004).

With the creation and also widespread use of television in the mid-20th century, newspaper circulation steadily dropped off, and in the 2first century, circulation has actually dropped additionally as even more people rotate to internet news sites and various other forms of brand-new media to continue to be indeveloped. This transition amethod from newsrecords as a resource of information has prodiscovered effects on societies. When the news is offered to a big varied conglomeprice of people, it have to (to appeal to them and also keep them subscribing) maintain some level of broad-based reporting and also balance. As newsrecords decline, news sources end up being more fractured, so that the audience have the right to choose especially what it desires to hear and what it wants to stop. But the actual obstacle to print newspapers is that revenue resources are decreasing much quicker than circulation is dropping. With an anticipated decrease in revenue of over 20% by 2017, the sector is in trouble (Ladurantaye, 2013). Unable to compete via digital media, huge and small newspapers are closing their doors throughout the nation. Something to think around is the concept of embopassed away energy mentioned previously. The print newsrecords are responsible for much of these prices internally. Digital media has downloaded a lot of these expenses onto the customer through individual modern technology purchases.

Television and also Radio

Radio programming obviously preceded tv, yet both shaped people’s resides in much the same method. In both cases, indevelopment (and also entertainment) might be took pleasure in at house, through a sort of immediacy and also area that newspapers could not sell. Prime Minister Mackenzie King broadactors his radio message out to Canada in 1927. He later on used radio to promote financial participation in response to the prospering socialist agitation versus the aboffers of capitalism both outside and within Canada (McGivern, 1990).

Radio was the initially “live” mass tool. People heard about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as it was happening. Hoccrucial Night in Canada was first broadcast live in 1932. Even though people were in their very own homes, media allowed them to share these moments in genuine time. Unfavor newsrecords, radio is a survivor. As Canada’s globally renowned radio marketing guru Terry O’Reilly asserts, radio survives “bereason it is such a ‘personal’ tool. Radio is a voice in your ear. It is a highly personal activity.” He likewise points out that “radio is local. It broadcasts news and programming that is mainly local in nature. And with all the technical transforms happening about radio, and in radio, be it AM relocating to FM relocating to satellite radio and also internet radio, basic terrestrial radio survives right into another day” (O’Reilly, 2014). This very same sort of separate-but-communal method emerged with various other entertainment also. School-aged kids and also office workers still gather to comment on the previous night’s instalment of a serial television or radio display.

The affect of Canadian tv has actually constantly reflected a struggle with the influence of UNITED STATE television prominence, the language divide, and strong federal federal government intervention right into the market for political objectives. There were hundreds of televisions in Canada receiving UNITED STATE broadcasting a decade before the initially 2 Canadian stations began broadspreading in 1952 (Wikipedia, N.d.). Public television, in comparison, readily available an educational nonprofit alternate to the sensationalization of news spurred by the network competition for viewers and also heralding dollars. Those resources — PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) in the USA, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), and CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), which straddled the borders of public and personal, garnered a worldwide 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 force that broadcasts to people global.

The impact of tv on North Amerideserve to culture is tough to overstate. By the late 1990s, 98% of homes had actually at least one tv collection. All this tv has a powerful socializing effect, with these creates of visual media providing reference groups while reinforcing social standards, worths, and also ideas.


The film sector took off in the 1930s, when colour and also sound were initially incorporated into attribute films. Like television, beforehand movies were unifying for society: As world gathered in theatres to watch new releases, they would certainly laugh, cry, and be scared together. Movies additionally act as time capsules or cultural touchstones for society. From tough-talking Clint Eastwood to the biopic of Facebook founder and also Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, movies illustrate society’s dreams, fears, and also experiences. The film industry in Canada has struggcaused keep its identity while at the same time embracing the North Amerideserve to industry by proactively contending for UNITED STATE film production in Canada. Today, a far-reaching number of the known trades occupations requiring apprenticeship and also training are in the film market. While many kind of North Americans consider Hollytimber the epicentre of moviemaking, India’s Bollylumber actually produces even more films per year, speaking to the cultural aspirations and standards of Indian society.

New Media
Figure 8.7. Twitter has fascinated the world in 140 characters or much less. What media invention will certainly following take the people by storm? (Picture courtesy of West McGowan/Flickr)

New media encompasses all interactive creates of information exreadjust. These include social netfunctioning sites, blogs, podcasts, wikis, and online civilizations. The list grows virtually day-to-day. New media tends to level the playing field in terms of who is constructing it (i.e., developing, publishing, distributing, and accessing information) (Lievrouw and Livingrock, 2006), and giving alternate forums to teams unable to acquire access to conventional political platforms, such as teams linked via the Arab Spring protests (van de Donk et al., 2004). However, tbelow is no guarantee of the accuracy of the information offered. In truth, the immediacy of new media coupled with the absence of oversight means that we need to be even more careful than ever before to encertain our news is coming from specific sources.

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New media is already respecifying indevelopment sharing in means unimaginable also a decade ago. New media giants favor Google and Facebook have actually newly gained crucial manufacturers in the aerial drones market developing an exponential capacity to reach further in information collecting and also dissemination. While the corpoprice line is benign sufficient, the implications are much even more prouncovered in this greatly unregulated arena of aerial security. With clintends of furthering remote internet accessibility, “commercial monitoring, scientific study, mapping, interactions, and also disaster assistance,” the reach is prodiscovered (Claburn, 2014). But once aligned through army and nationwide surveillance interests these brand-new innovations become mainly exempt from regulations and civilian oversight.