Technology, Human Groups,
and Institutional Change
Impact of Technological
Change on Groups
(from McGinn, STS, chapter
- 1793: Eli Whitney's Cotton
Gin- led to need for more workers in the field, 6 fold increase in the number
of slaves from 1790-1860.
- Post Civil War- sharecropping
- Industrialization: Massive
migration- rural South to urban North (agriculture mechanized, jobs in cities.
Lack of skills and education- confined to low level, menial work.
Same pattern, now Blacks of the inner cities are left without jobs as high-tech
factories relocate and industrial work fades. Emergence of the "underclass."
- Role of technology- Mass
Media- in the Civil Rights Movement: "Crystallization of a national Black
consciousness." Today: homogenization of the heterogeneous Hispanic population--
- Modern mass media- heightening
- Post-industrial world:
Low level service sector, growth in high tech- but still problems- 1986: 3%
of scientists 2% of engineers
- Information processing
and Computers: Skill sets that have not been developed with the African-American
population- Educational inequality!!
- The emergence of "Childhood"
- Growth of Educational
Institutions. Higher skill sets and cognitive abilities demanded by the structure
of work in a technologically sophisticated economy. Childhood as distinctive
stage of life, and children as distinct and isolated from adults. Juvenile
delinquency versus Criminal, Child labor laws.
- Today: Dividing line
blurring- Cognitive skills necessary to grasp "adult" material through
the written word are not necessary with television and modern information
technology. TV: retards development of reading skills, intensifies sex-typing.
- Children, Computers and
Identity (Sherry Turkle)- three stages of
relationships: "Metaphysical (is it alive?); "Mastery phase"
- "hard" and "soft"- learning to control the machine;
"Identity phase"- early experiences and significance of attachment-
ideas about relationships, consciousness, self-reflection.
- Computer children ==>
Adult groups (Turkle again): Artificial Intelligence community, The Hacker
Subculture, and the Community of Home Computer Users (parts of their identity
wound up in the use of the PC).
- Evocative rather than
- Other technological influences:
Living arrangements- especially high-rise apartments: less exploration!?!--
more susceptible to peer influence!
- TV and socialization-
Sesame Street, multi-culturalism
- Increasing age stratification
- The emergence of "Old
- Shift in power structure
- Quality vs. Quantity
- Intergenerational Conflict:
- "The central,
productive involvement of youth and young adults and the negligible, unproductive
involvement of the elderly in contemporary science and technology."
- "The fact that
the non-elderly must foot the bill for the technology-intensive medical
care of the growing, longer-living elderly population."
Work (and Leisure) (McGinn,
STS, chapter 6; Wessells, CSS, chapters 2,3, and 4)
- Industrialization and
social roles- bifurcation.
- New wave of service sector
work- factory/office based women's work.
- Industrialization of
the household- Ruth Schwartz Cowan: Not liberation, but increasing domination
and further splitting of social roles.
- Yet, technological changes
have reduced certain differentials between males and females-
- Relative importance
of physical strength
shift- need for women to enter into the paid labor force.
- Relative anonymity
of electronic communication and interaction???
Wessells: The Computer
- The Electronic Office-
- E-Mail and Electronic
Conferencing- improved communication, time saving, lacks elements of F-T-F.
- Electronic Funds Transfer-
reduction in paperwork. Banking, Point of Sale, Pre-authorized (direct deposit/payment),
ATM's, Home banking
- Expert Systems and Decision
Making: managing the configuration of complex production systems.
- Computer-Aided Design:
speed, comparisons, testing (stress, etc). Boeing- productivity doubles.
- Robotics: lower labor
costs, increased productivity.
- Computer Numerical Control-
production of tools and dies: Old- labor intensive set-up, only mass production
feasible. With CNC little set-up necessary- computer guided cutting vs jig.
- Computer-Integrated Manufacturing:
Linking together all of the above. Fanuc Limited in Japan: robots and computers
guide production from warehouse to production to warehouse. GTE: computer
controlled production of printed circuit boards- from order receiving to final
- Issues of planning and
implementation rather than pure technological determinism.
Quality of Work Life
- Abstraction- work more
and more set apart from the 'old' "reality" of everyday life.
- Manual versus intellectual
- Particularly hard hit-
high skill occupations- tool and die makers, etc.
- Modern expert systems-
many white collar occupations. Banking and loans.
- Issues of craft and creativity,
sensory contact, distrust of computers
Technology and Leisure
(McGinn, STS, chapter 6)
- Big Brother is watching
- Health (sedentary lifestyle)
Leisure and Profit
- Most of our leisure activities
have become dependent or somehow influence by technological reality.
- Even the advent of leisure-
as a distinct and separate element of our everyday life- is related to the
changing nature of work in an advanced technological society.
- Free time vs. Leisure
(100 saints' and feast days in medieval Europe, 1761- 47 bank holidays)
- Industrialization and
the extended work week- 24/7/365.
- Work equals success,
idleness equals ruin
- Late 19th Century (and
on): profits to be made from the masses who were on the same schedule- Mass
- Role of public transportation
(now cars-highways and MetroLink extension 2006: Clayton, Galleria, and Sam's/Lowes)
- Shift from "self-generated
leisure" to purchase and consumption of leisure.
- Leisure and mass consumption-
shopping (maintenance of the production system)
Loss of Leisure
- After sleep and work-
our primary activity
- Most every household
has one, typically two.
- Sets are on an average
of 7 hours per day
- Children and the elderly
watch the most, and Americans on averagge spend 40% of their leisure time
in front of the television.
- "Television and
Human Behavior" Comstock, et al
- Reduction in other
social activities- especially for those over 56
- Resulting in age
- Decline in reading
- Decline in "creativity
- Influences leisure by
shifting intersts away from activities which require skills that television
- We continue to work long
weeks, over 45 hour on average
- Jobs in tertiary sector
typically demand most time
- Electronic communications
have create the "permanent office."
- Spend much of our "free
time" buying, fixing, and using technics and less and less "relaxing."
- Obsessed with time and
time savings- no time for pleasures that require time
- Commodification of Leisure-
Mass Leisure: appeals to what is "safe" and sure, caters to existing
tastes rather than stimulating the "new." (Die Hard 47)
Owner: Robert O. Keel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, January 20, 2011 15:58