CCT109H5 Lecture III Tuesday, May 14 2013
Week 2 Class 3
Social Histories Public Spheres, and ICTs
• Coffee House Mob was a loud environment. An example of how public spheres looked
like the 18th century.
• Housekeeping: Test #1 May 21 in tutorial:
1. Classes 1,2,3,4 - Introduction and Module 1 - 10 MC, 10 TF, 1 SA (3 Paragraphs)
2. Lecture Materials (Fair Game)
3. Course Readings: Innis; Macdougall; Lessig and Flew &Smith (Chapters 1-3)
4. Flew & Smith; look for key themes and ideas (Conceptual Knowledge)
Samsung says mobile data breakthrough blows away 4G speed (News Article -
Today: Quick Recap: Approaching Communications Studies
PART 1: Histories of communication technology: building public spheres, how do
construct meaning around technology
PART 2: Telephone, approximately 1880-1930 Canada
Details is not a big deal, focus on the general themes. Dates is not necessarily
Two dominant ways in which we will approach the study of communications and
Social Constructionism Everyday behaviour of technology
Socio Economic Status
Very much focused in how social norms is embedded in society. Social glue
Violating social norms will bring to light the said norm.
Technology is political. Most media is utilized to make money. Advertisement is
the best example
Emphasizing power relations. Political economy is a social resource.
Each represents a unique "lens" for framing knowledge.
Social reality is not taken for granted there are no assumptions that particular things
"had: to emerge in time
SCOT: Technology is never absolute, its uses are not pre-given, they have to be
articulated by people.
Who made the telephone? What were the interests? Who wanted to buy the telephone?
ICT sand the Construction of Social Orders
Clock towers? First appeared in the 11th-12th Century.
Why do we have clock towers:
Good at organizing people
Dividing your day in 3 eight hour segments. The monks used this to split there
day into three parts.
Organized labour and workers. (Work Shifts) Wage labours was started due to the clock tower.
Originally a religious tool
"The clock, not the steam engine, is the key machine of the modern industrial
Oral Culture and Public Spheres
Unlike print culture, oral forms of communication tend to be highly associated with larger
ideas of community and social participation
E.g. Early study of rhetoric and the agora. Rhetoric words to persuade people.
E.g. Catholic Mass, largely oral transmission of knowledge , instrumental in developing a
collective sense of belonging and identity
What sorts of communities and social relations were made possible through the
ICTs as Social Progress
C18-19- Emergence of communications technologies which offered the ability to
"transcend" (to overcome) time and space (e.g. rail, telegraph, steam, camera)
Belief in social progress through ICTs (ie through science and technology) That
technology could fundamentally improve and benefit everyone`s lives equally.
Context: an age of rapid expansion (especially British and European expansion) across
Pollution was even worse back in the day. Advancement in technology was built on the
backs of child labour. Advancement in technology is not necessarily a step in progress.
ICTs and The Technological Sublime
Technological Sublime: divert a "lower" impulse into a higher cultural or social activity
Communications technology as rendering communication into a new "higher" order
which could transcend space and time
Broader notions of cultural and social progress through expansionism
The basic idea that the more advanced the technology , the more sophisticated our
society is believed to be. (and therefore, superior to other societies with less developed
technology) A higher problematic argument Technological Determinism
The idea that technological change is a causal force in explaining social change.
Violent video games =more violent children?
More specifically it is usually found to denote how technological change is a causal force
in the moral and social development of a society, thus the more sophisticated a
technology, the more sophisticated or enlightened we believe its people.
Problematic arguments show up when technology is the only one to blame for
something. Ie Telephones is the ONLY reason why people become less social
Social Context: Time or rapid industrialization, expansionism, technological
innovation/change rise of scientific inquiry, population growth intensification of global
capitalism, changing social norms of labour, growth of secular norms of moral
Development of ICTs which could transcend time/space
Telephone -Why The Telephone?
While virtually ubiquitous now, it was at one point quite unusual to have a telephone
Many of the common assumptions we hold about the use of the telephone would seem
quite strange in the early history of telephones
Although we tend to see the telephone as an example of community building and nation-
state building, in practice its development was highly uneven
Key technology for stimulating economic growth: better control over production process,