The Relationship Between Media Technology And Social Change Essay

The Relationship Between Media Technology And Social Change Essay

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Marshall McLuhan and Raymond Williams, both cornerstones in their respected and media theory and cultural studies, differed in their opinions of the relationship between media technology and social change.
McLuhan believed in technological determinism, which is “an approach that identifies technology, or technological developments, as the central causal element in processes of change” (Croteau, Hoynes, and Milan 290). In other words, McLuhan believed that new technology drives the way cultural values and social structures develop. He was interested in the cultural effects produced by electronic media; he was especially interested in the effects of televisions. McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage argued that technology has changed the way humans do things and interact, that “all media are extensions of some human faculty” (McLuhan 5). Rather than walking, we have cars to help us get to places quicker. Rather than talking with people face-to-face, we call on a telephone. New technology places value on doing things quicker and easier. McLuhan also believed that what changes people is the technology itself, not the content. In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, he proposed that we focus on the way each medium changes cultures and traditions and reshapes social life, rather than the content. He describes the content of the medium as a “juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.” (McLuhan 32). To him, focusing on the medium was important because he believed that different types of media changes the balance of our sense. We start isolating and highlighting different senses. For example, print technology highlights the visual aspect of the media, but isolates sound. However, electronic medi...


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...The development of the iPhone can lead to less face-to-face social interaction.
Williams, on the other hand, would argue that the iPhone was created because we needed something that would allow us to communicate with others easily. Apple created the iPhone to serve our need for easy and quick communication, and for entertainment. Williams believed that due to marketing, new technologies would always be created. Based on this idea, Williams would have probably argued that the iPhone was unavoidable since Apple is a powerful company whose marketing team would have made sure that everyone knows about the iPhone. William might have also argued that the iPhone was part of the growing trend of mobile privatization. You can bring your phone with you everywhere and since you have all your information and social contacts stored in there, the phone can make you feel “at home”.

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