Technology and Society, Social Change, & Government


How has technology and rapid social change impacted or affected:

  1. Geography, Demography, Ecology, Economics and Stratification?

The ushering in of technology  has produced astonishing results in societies around the world.  The Industral Revolution was instrumental in changing how people of yesteryear lived.  Because technology has continually built upon itself since this time, society has continued to transform itself as a result.  The rapid social changes that have occurred and continue to occur as a result of technology have effected literally every discipline of the social sciences.  In terms of geography, technology has been extremely influential in the process of globalization.  The physical space and distance that separates countries like Japan and Mexico is quite immense.  Crossing the Pacific Ocean to “the integration of world economies” (Colander, 2011) would be completely impossible without proper technological advancements.  Also, in terms of geography, our advancements have lead us to transform (and often degrade) landscapes and live in marginal environments. These impressions we make on the earth are long lasting and alter the environment for the foreseeable future.  The aforementioned concern is an essential one to the discipline of ecology and includes, mining, mountain top mining, and even intensive agricultural practices.   In terms of demography, technology has enabled our local living arrangements to be quite different.  Before the widespread use of the automobile and public transportation, those that worked in particular sectors needed to live within a reasonable distance to their respective jobs.  It made little sense for someone to take a job they couldn’t feasibly get to.  Now, most people are capable of living long distances from their places of work.  This resulted in the development of the suburban family.    This, in turn has fueled segregation in economics and stratification.  Those that cannot afford technology as it is implemented throughout a society can be disadvantaged considerably.  For instance, if someone is capable of performing a high-paying contractor job, but lacks a cell phone and a car, they’re likely not a good fit.  Technology has completely transformed the economic sector in many ways, including “standardization, interchangeability, and mass production” (Colander, 2011).  Mentioned briefly before, not all of the changes to economics that technology have brought have been good.  As more technologically advanced machines are devised, workers are being displaced at an alarming rate.  Also of key concern is that of outsourcing, the process of exporting jobs to countries where cheap labor can be exploited as a means of maximizing profits.  The social stratification that results from these technological innovations and institutions can be quite conspicuous and stark.  Technology aids the continuation of social stratification in that it assists those who have buying power, and widens the gap between them and those who are without.  It effects many aspects of “domestic life” (Colander, 2011).  “Social scientists…argue that the social class structure of capitalism is inevitable with the capitalist means of production” (Colander, 2011).  Class warfare and struggle are imminent results of technology’s implements and how they affect social structures. Counter arguments have been made regarding technology and social stratification.

  1. What stimulates “Social Change?” 

Social change is stimulated by solutions of problems posed to a given society.  “For a social problem to exist, two conditions must be fulfilled” (Colander, 2011).  “There must be…some condition that adversely affects the welfare of a significant number of people” and “there must be a belief that this condition can and should be changed” (Colander, 2011).  Technology aids in stimulating social change, because it can often be either the answer itself to a problem, or can assist in the transmission of potential solutions.  For instance, infrastructural issues faced by a society can be solved by technology in its purest sense and a public internet forum can be a place where townspeople congregate to express societal concerns or potential solutions, respectively.

  1.  What issues prevent change from occurring?  Are all societies equal when change occurs? Why or why not? 

Habits, societal norms, attitudes, organization, and cultural lag all contribute to the prevention of social change.  Because societies around the world are different from one another, they’re acceptance or defiance concerning social change is particularly subject to their own cultural and societal problems and organization.  No two societies and peoples are alike for the most part and equality is a term that should be used to delve into a conversation on cultural relativism.

  1. Why are these questions valuable to understanding human relationships and society?

These questions are important because they help us to understand and envision a much larger scope of societal reality.  “Necessity is the mother of invention”.  This statement aims to explain that technology is meant to assist.  It is meant to make our lives better, to improve the human condition.  In this way, the central quest of all technology is essentially the same as that of social science.  In terms of social change, it’s value to understanding human relationships and society is also to understand how to improve quality of life.  Its focus, is the “how” in “how to get there”.  The social changes that a society is capable of making are pivotal to the growth and progressivism as well as the increasing quality of life of said society.

In addition… 

  1. The role of Governments has been said to impact all aspects of human life and interaction. How and why is this true?

This is true to a certain extent.  “Government is the set of institutions by which a society is ruled” (Colander, 2011).  The concept of society is incredibly complex and multifaceted.  Thus, a government must concern itself with most aspects of its respective population.  When social problems and solutions are assessed and devised, the basis for social change, it is largely government that is the vehicle by which these changes occur.  A government is particularly useful at organizing the concerns, thoughts, problems and solutions of a society.  As a society gains in complexity, so too does the responsibilities and presence of that society’s government.

Can governments affect the political, social and economic outcomes that researchers often study?

Yes governments have an excruciatingly important role in the way that societies function.  “Government is by far the most powerful of all social institutions” (Colander, 2011).  Thus, outcomes are radically altered by the actions and legislation of government forces.  This is why government is such an important area of study to social scientists.

How does the role of a government impact:

  1. Economic change

Government is instrumental in evoking economic change in a number of ways.  Perhaps the most significant is the use of taxes, which remove a specified amount of wages from an individual’s pay in order to subsidize government programs, finances, and spending.  In keeping with this, some members of society may be responsible for more than others in terms of their input of taxes.  This can either be the result of unbalanced earnings (which in turn may be the result of a caste or class system) or can result in unbalanced earnings.  In many countries the government perceives a great need for social programs, including medical, sustenance, and educational services.  These forces contribute greatly to economic changes within a society and are the result of government’s actions.

  1. Political ideology

Because government is so powerful, it has the ability to categorize concerns of citizens within a society.  Although, much of society may differ in opinion from their fellow members on any given subject, their governments have neatly “boxed in” and categorized political ideals.  Political ideologies are essentially “deeply held beliefs in an idea…held…with…conviction” (Colander, 2011).  Often, governments present information and subjects of debate in ways that force its political subjects to decided their standpoint on a number of issues, rather than simply one at a time.  An example of this categorizing of political issues that may or may not be similar and citizens may or may not be in agreement with all that is encompassed by such categorizations is the concept of “democrats” and “republicans”.  Often, these classifications result in confusion and ultimately undesirable legislation being put forth because of a stance on a particular issue.

  1. Religion

History has recorded an awful lot of governments’ toiling with religion.  It is because of their devotion to religion and lack of toleration for others’ religious affiliations that much of America was settled by the English.  Also, the Spanish King Charles I was particularly damning of the natives and their religion when the conquistadores began settling Mesoamerica.  It was their central focus to institute Catholicism at any cost.  Many governments throughout the history of the world were closely affiliated with and shared advantageous ventures with that of religious institutions.  More recently, the landscape of government and religion is that of polar opposites.  Much of the western world, including that of Europe, North America, and Australia, and many eastern countries, such as Russia, China, Japan, and Korea are devote in their government’s attempts to reconcile with this past by staunch separatism; that is, they do not affiliate religion with that of government.  Many of these countries do, however, attempt to appease and accommodate different religious groups, allowing for freedom of expression and religious tolerance.  On the complete other hand, many Middle Eastern countries, and countries in Africa, rule with an iron fist and closely align their governments with religion.  In fact, much of their political doctrine is borrowed from sacred texts.  This often results in a complete lack of tolerance and violence and other potential social problems.

  1. International Relations

International relations are effected primarily by diplomatic interaction that occurs at the government and political levels.  More often than not, a country’s leaders in government are the focal point of the international stage, so to speak.  This has serious implications, because the international community can (and does) make inferences about the society based on their representative and his or her words/ideologies.

Works Cited

Colander, D. C. (2011). Social Science: An Introduction to the Study of Society. Boston: Pearson: Allyn & Bacon.

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