Technology and social change

For this paper, which should be 4-5 pages double-spaced with at least 3 academic sources, choose one technology, past or present (or if you are really adventurous, near future) and analyze it thoroughly in its larger social context. By technology, I mean any tool (the plow, clay tablets for writing, the printing press, the assembly line, firearms, computers, etc.), material for use (iron, paper, steel, silicon for chips, coal, petroleum), machine (solar panels, computers, cell phones, automobiles, trains, steamships, planes, space shuttles, nuclear power plants and so on), practice (agriculture, writing, printing, flying, mass production) or means of communication (the post office, newspapers, radio, television, telegraph, telephone, satellites, cell phones, the internet, etc.) or travel (horse, camel, roads, highways, railroads, sailing ships, steamships, nuclear submarines, automobiles, planes, rockets).

Discuss the following: what kind of society devised it and deployed it; what kinds of organizations were behind its creation, or dominated its use, or owned it; what classes or groups in society benefited most from its use; how practices, social life, culture or habits were changed by it, what industries may have grown out of it or declined and disappeared; what effect the changes its use wrought brought to the workforce; how goverment policies or practices may have been effected, any effect on status groups or communities, including on ethnicities, race, gender, family.

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That is, we are interested here in the way technology is shaped by the society it emerges in, and how its use impacts that society and brings about social change.

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