Textbook Notes (368,330)
Canada (161,803)
Sociology (1,053)
SOCA02H3 (310)
Chapter 22

Chapter 22 Notes

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOCA02H3
Professor
Malcolm Mac Kinnon
Semester
Winter

Description
CHAPTER 22Technology and the Global EnvironmentTechnology Saviour or FrankensteinScholars interested in the relationship between technology and society also recognize that the bombing of Hiroshima divided the twentieth century into two distinct periodsThe period before Hiroshima the era of naive optimism During that time technology could do no wrong technology was widely defined as the application of scientific principles to the improvement of human life most people regarded technologists with reverence and awe they were viewed as a sort of priesthood whose objectivity allowed them to stand outside the everyday world and perform nearmagical acts with the bombing of Hiroshima the blush was off the roseGrowing pessimism was evident three weeks earlier when the worlds first nuclear bomb exploded at the Alamagordo Bombing Range in New Mexico the bomb was the child of J Robert Oppenheimer appointed head of the topsecret M anhattan Project just 28 months earlier Oppenheimer organized the largest and most sophisticated technological project in human history up to that time J Robert Oppenheimer the father of the atomic bombOppenheimers misgivings continued after the war having witnessed the destructive power he helped unleash he wanted the United States to set an example to the only other nuclear power at the time the Soviet Union he wanted both countries to halt thermonuclear research and refuse to develop the hydrogen bombIt was only in the 1970s that a series of horrific disasters alerted many people to the fact that technological advance is not always beneficial not even always benign the most infamous technological disasters of the 1970s and 1980s include the followingthe Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound Alaska spilling 42 million litres 9 million gallons of crude oil producing a dangerous slick more than 1600 kilometres 1000 miles long causing billions of dollars of damage and killing hundreds of thousands of animalsSociologist Charles Perrow was referring to events such as those listed above as normal accidents the term normal accident recognizes that the very complexity of modern technologies ensures they will inevitably fail though in unpredictable waysGerman sociologist Ulrich Beck also coined a term that stuck when he said we live in a risk society a risk society is a society in which technology distributes danger among all categories of the population moreover in a risk society danger does not result from technological accidents alone increased risk is due to mounting environmental threats
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