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Technology, Internet and Mass Communication

The last fifty years have shown an unimaginably exponential increase in invention and innovation of technology. Since the internet was commercially introduced to the public, new technology is introduced every year that could not have even been imagined by most the year before. Many agree that the internet is the single most influential invention that has even been introduced to the human species.¹

With internet practically considered a human right, anyone in North America has access to the majority of human knowledge with a trip to a library and a few clicks. If knowledge is power then the internet has literally revolutionized our society in the most marxist sense of the word.

The sociology of science and technology has emerged in the last few decades as an influential mode of inquiry. In the 1970s and 1980s, historians and sociologists of technology “began questioning implicit assumptions about technological progress and social progress moving forward together in an upward spiral toward the ever better."²

Many sociologists approach the subject of technological innovation through the framework of two intersecting ideas: that “successful innovation requires consideration of the social and organizational contexts in which it is located” and that “innovations can be divided into two modes: ‘bounded’ . . . and ‘unbounded.'"¹

The implications of bounded innovation are within one sphere of influence and the effects of unbounded innovation spill beyond this. Sociologists are typically interested in unbounded innovation and its relationship with production, consumption and society. The sociological approach to technology and mass communication can provide insights to the “negotiations and alignments that constitute the implementation of unbounded innovation."¹

There has always been a dialectical relationship between culture and technology. Discovery of fire, the wheel, electricity and transcommunication technology have all shaped and been shaped the world view of cultures and the entire human species. Sociologists of technology aim to “demonstrate that technology has never been some exogenous force, but an integral component of society shaping and profoundly shaped by politics, economics and culture."²

 

References:

1. Harty, Chris. (2006). Innovation in construction: a sociology of technology approach. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09613210500288605#.Uk7UXWTN6aY

2. Pinch, Trevor, Wiebe Bijker and Thomas Hughes. (1990). The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://www.jstor.org.proxy.queensu.ca/stable/234086?seq=2

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