Perspectives on Technology

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The panoptic surveillance envisioned by Jeremy Bentham, depicted in the form of an all-powerful, all-seeing government by George Orwell in , and later analyzed by Michel Foucault is increasingly realized in the form of technology used to monitor our every move. This surveillance was imagined as a form of constant monitoring in which the observation posts are decentralized and the observed is never communicated with directly. Today, digital security cameras capture our movements, observers can track us through our cell phones, and police forces around the world use facial-recognition software.

What types of women are we exposed to in the media? Some would argue that the range of female images is misleadingly narrow. Take a look at popular television shows, advertising campaigns, and online game sites.

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In most, women are portrayed in a particular set of parameters and tend to have a uniform look that society recognizes as attractive. Most are thin, white or light-skinned, beautiful, and young. Why does this matter? Feminist perspective theorists believe this idealized image is crucial in creating and reinforcing stereotypes. For example, Fox and Bailenson found that online female avatars conforming to gender stereotypes enhance negative attitudes toward women, and Brasted found that media advertising in particular promotes gender stereotypes.

As early as , Ms. The gender gap in tech-related fields science, technology, engineering, and math is no secret.

Perspectives on the Technology Economy Outlook - CES 2016

A U. Department of Commerce Report suggested that gender stereotyping is one reason for this gap which acknowledges the bias toward men as keepers of technological knowledge US Department of Commerce But gender stereotypes go far beyond the use of technology. Press coverage in the media reinforces stereotypes that subordinate women; it gives airtime to looks over skills, and coverage disparages women who defy accepted norms.

Recent research in new media has offered a mixed picture of its potential to equalize the status of men and women in the arenas of technology and public discourse. A European agency, the Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women , issued an opinion report suggesting that while there is the potential for new media forms to perpetuate gender stereotypes and the gender gap in technology and media access, at the same time new media could offer alternative forums for feminist groups and the exchange of feminist ideas.

Still, the committee warned against the relatively unregulated environment of new media and the potential for antifeminist activities, from pornography to human trafficking, to flourish there. Increasingly prominent in the discussion of new media and feminism is cyberfeminism, the application to, and promotion of, feminism online. Research on cyberfeminism runs the gamut from the liberating use of blogs by women living in Iraq during the second Gulf War Peirce to an investigation of the Suicide Girls web site Magnet Technology itself may act as a symbol for many. The kind of computer you own, the kind of car you drive, your ability to afford the latest Apple product—these serve as a social indicator of wealth and status.

Neo-Luddites are people who see technology as symbolizing the coldness and alienation of modern life. But for technophiles, technology symbolizes the potential for a brighter future. For those adopting an ideological middle ground, technology might symbolize status in the form of a massive flat-screen television or failure ownership of a basic old mobile phone with no bells or whistles. Meanwhile, media create and spread symbols that become the basis for our shared understanding of society.

Theorists working in the interactionist perspective focus on this social construction of reality, an ongoing process in which people subjectively create and understand reality.

8.4: Theoretical Perspectives on Media and Technology

Media constructs our reality in a number of ways. For some, the people they watch on a screen can become a primary group, meaning the small informal groups of people who are closest to them. For many others, media becomes a reference group: a group that influences an individual and to which an individual compares himself or herself, and by which we judge our successes and failures. We might do very well without the latest smartphone, until we see characters using it on our favorite television show or our classmates whipping it out between classes.

While media may indeed be the medium to spread the message of rich white males, Gamson, Croteau, Hoynes, and Sasson point out that some forms of media discourse allow competing constructions of reality to appear. While Tumblr and Facebook encourage us to check in and provide details of our day through online social networks, corporations can just as easily promote their products on these sites.

Even supposedly crowd-sourced sites like Yelp which aggregates local reviews are not immune to corporate shenanigans. That is, we think we are reading objective observations when in reality we may be buying into one more form of advertising. Facebook, which started as a free social network for college students, is increasingly a monetized business, selling you goods and services in subtle ways.

What started out as a symbol of coolness and insider status, unavailable to parents and corporate shills, now promotes consumerism in the form of games and fandom.

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For example, think of all the money spent to upgrade popular Facebook games like Candy Crush. But if it means a weekly coupon, they will, in essence, rent out space on their Facebook pages for Pampers to appear.

Thus, we develop both new ways to spend money and brand loyalties that will last even after Facebook is considered outdated and obsolete. There are myriad theories about how society, technology, and media will progress. Functionalism sees the contribution that technology and media provide to the stability of society, from facilitating leisure time to increasing productivity. Conflict theorists are more concerned with how technology reinforces inequalities among communities, both within and among countries. They also look at how media typically give voice to the most powerful, and how new media might offer tools to help those who are disenfranchised.

Symbolic interactionists see the symbolic uses of technology as signs of everything from a sterile futuristic world to a successful professional life. A parent secretly monitoring the babysitter through the use of GPS, site blocker, and nanny cam is a good example of:. When it comes to media and technology, a functionalist would focus on:. Contrast a functionalist viewpoint of digital surveillance with a conflict perspective viewpoint.

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Different Perspectives on Technology Acceptance: The Role of Technology Type and Age | SpringerLink

In what ways has the Internet affected how you view reality? Explain using a symbolic interactionist perspective. Describe how a cyberfeminist might address the fact that powerful female politicians are often demonized in traditional media. The issue of airplane-pilot exhaustion is an issue of growing media concern. Select a theoretical perspective, and describe how it would explain this. Would you characterize yourself as a technophile or a Luddite?

Explain, and use examples. Brasted, Monica. Transformers: Gender Stereotypes in Advertisements. Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage Books. Fox, Jesse, and Jeremy Bailenson. Kautiainen, S. Koivusilta, T. Lintonen, S. Virtanen, and A. Krahe, Barbara, Ingrid Moller, L.

Exposure, Aggressive Cognitions, and Aggressive Behavior. Lazerfeld, Paul F. Magnet, Shoshana. Mills, C. The Power Elite.

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New York: Oxford University Press. Television Homes to be Pierce, Tess. Savage, Joanne. A Methodological Review. Shoemaker, Pamela and Tim Voss.

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