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Lecture

SOC 3116.docx

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Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC3116
Professor
Tonio Sadik

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SOC 3116 September 11 2012: A critical approach to tech and society: - Learning objectives: o To develop a better appreciation for how much we rely on electronic technologies o To implicate today’s actions in the technology of the future (technology is not a force of nature, we do not have to adapt to technology, we do have to adapt to the weather – we do not have to accommodate technology, it should be accommodating us – technology is created in order to serve us) - Look at the broader structure of technologies – the car, not just how it’s used individually, but the overall impact, the infrastructure that has come with it, etc. – also things such as the impact on the environment and other things - Course is focused on the way that technology shapes our social reality - Ways in which tech shapes what we see, do and think: o Tech always says its making our lives easier, not always true o Information is not always questioned (“I heard it on the news”) – lack of accountability, greater exposure o Peer influence about our use of tech – social exclusion if you don’t have the latest thing o Led to believe that it enhances communication o Implicit in marketing is that “everyone” must have whatever the new thing is o Social networks – (re)presentation o Impacts on education o Entertainment impact - To challenge our complacency - To impact its usefulness – if it doesn’t work, then change it so that it does work - To enhance our awareness of how much we rely on technology - To get our heads outside of the box of popular messaging about technology News media and social media: - Old media – one way communication – from the center out to the masses - New media (social media) – it is potentially 2 way communication - ICT – information communication technology – and all the applications that have come along with it – something like a satellite, we don’t use it individually, but they allow the use of things like phone and television that we do use personally, part of the infrastructure September 14, 2012 Sociology of technology: - Focus on how technology is implicated in our social relations - What impact might technology have on what we do and how we interact with one another Neil Postman: - 5 things about technological change that we need to always bear in mind o There’s always a trade-off – when you get one thing, there’s always something that you lose – we don’t get something for nothing when there is an innovation – the more central the internet becomes to our gathering of information – the more likely it will be that there will be less libraries to access physical materials o What benefits some, harms others – those used to old and new technology will be affected differently o Embedded in all technologies are assumptions and ideas that influence how we behave – technology is not neutral – using technology as a tool allows us to step back and look at if it is inherently good or not (ex. A hammer is a tool, has no use on its own, used to build a house it is a good tool, used as a weapon, it is a bad tool) – Postman says this isn’t the case (everything except the embedded part) – culturally contingent assumptions o Technological change is not additive but ecological (accumulative) – put red dye in glass of water, you don’t have water and a drop of dye, you have red water – when things change they don’t just get added on, they change everything - Traditional media – newspapers, radio and television - 2 way communication o Doesn’t simply mean between 2 people, it means that it can go back and forth between any number of people - Fastest growing communication over last 20 years is mobile phones o 2009 – 2/3 of the global population had a mobile phone – 4.1 billion people o 2 fastest growing communication technology is the internet - Language suggested that knowledge is at the heart of everything we do Old media, new media, what’s the difference? - Objectives: o To highlight communication as among the most significant attributes of being human o To highlight the fact that the technologies that we use today are entirely routed in the technologies that preceded them o To create a linkage between the role of the internet in our lives today based on our past experiences with traditional media th September 18 , 2012 Communication: - How we communicate is something that is uniquely human - Socialization – the way we learn language and to communicate is by hearing others communicate – the process of socialization is very much the same over all cultures in early childhood - Mediates communication – gets in between our communication – what is the impact of it mediating our communication - How people communicate has changed – gone from face to face/oral to using communication such as twitter - What they communicate in this context – social media limits communication to a certain amount of characters so we change what we say to fit within those confines September 25, 2012: - Quiz: o First 3 chapters and 3 readings from reader o 30 multiple choice questions - Issue of the invention and commercialization of the radio o Wireless communication o Became popular in the 1920’s – domesticated (commercial radio) o Telegraph was 2 way communication – radio is one way – wireless technology had become accessible to the public at this point o Telephone – not wireless but was 2 way communication o CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) regulates communication in Canada – began to regulate radio frequencies as it became commercial – thought that the money to be made was in selling the actual radios themselves – newspapers were the only previous form of mass media, there was far less advertising at the time (now over 60% of the New York Times is advertising) – thought that since you are just broadcasting a radio station that you cannot control who listens to it – radio established this relationship – they will give you the radio signal and music for free in exchange for listening to this advertising – radio station makes money off these ads, people have access to the station for free o 1940’2-50’s now move into television – marks the transition point – internet is the next game changer - To link the role of media in our society with the founding precepts of democratic society: o We wouldn’t generally feel the impact of advertising as one of manipulation - Traditional media (newspapers, radio and television) has played a significant roles in shaping our society and have provided a relevant vantage point to judge the significance of the internet – what can we learn about the internet based on what we have already learned about traditional media - Traditional media have been involved in both the construction and representation of our social reality – representation > the idea or re-presenting something - We think of news as being true and TV shows as fictional – news media simply re-present information - We are not aware of the extent to which what we see on the news is a reflection of a particular vision of our society rather than a complete truth – there are many ways to present a given issue, we are shown just one – the institutions of media are anything but neutral, they are businesses , they want to make money and so the information that they present will be suited to ensure that they are as profitable as possible – the primary interest that drives commercial media is profit – what is important for profit has an impact on the news that we do and do not hear and see - Democratic society: o The idea that a democratic society is a good thing (instilled in us) – think everyone should live in a democratic society o Need to ask questions about some of the assumptions that we have about what it means to live in a democratic society o One of the core concepts at the heart of a democratic society is what is called the “public sphere” – scholar named Habermas – concerned that the core values of the public sphere were being eroded – in order to have a vibrant democratic society, you need a vibrant democratic public sphere – the public sphere is effectively a public space that is conceptual – for democracy to work you need to have a public place for citizens to engage one another – that is the essence of democracy – citizens having access to information so that they are informed citizens who can engage one another and draw certain conclusions o In the context of a democratic society with regards to media – we envision the institution of media as acting in the interest of the public o 3 core functions of media in the context of a democratic society: 1) source of public information, 2) a public watch dog function, 3) public representative o Think that we know Steven Harper, never actually met him, we assume that we know him through the information that we get through the media that we assume is true o Mass media speaks to the size of the audience – called mass media because of the scale of the people that the information is sent to – reflects mass society – media gets information on our behalf – asks questions that we would ask if we had the opportunity to be there and ask for ourselves o Media represents us and speaks for us in the political process short of us getting directly involved – they give us feedback, they are there because we can’t be - These are all things that the media ought to be doing in the public interest, not in the interest of one person, one group or their own interest but for the public in general - Public sphere definition: (James Curran) a neutral zone where access to information affecting the public good is widely available, discussion is free of domination, and all those participating do so on an equal basis – democratic society requires a public sphere – presupposes that media fulfills these functions and allows us to have access to this information - Video: o How does Google make money? o Google is one of many sources of information that we have access to, what is the implication of all of us choosing to go to Google? o How does the issue of trust figure into our reliance of Google? October 5, 2012: Traditional media: - 2 categories: o Commercial o State run, public & alternative - 2 “genres”: o News & info o Entertainment - Advertising does not constitute one of the genres – it is present in commercial advertising (typically news and information) - Concept of public sphere embodies all of our information (mass media dominates it) - Metaphors used to describe media function in society: o Mirror – media reflects back onto us what we have in our society o Window – media provide us with a window to the world – think of window as a TV – shows us the world - Metaphors are a problem because they imply that media are transparent in what they show us – for the mirror, that it is not distorting what we see, window implies that the view is clear, that media doesn’t change what we see - Reality is that the production of news has been subjected to a variety of constraints – unrelated to it being shown in a comprehensive or transparent manner - The development of routines in news gathering, a reliance upon official sources for verification of information, the fact that there are strict deadlines for news production all operate to constrain the information that reaches the consumers of media - Chomsky –
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