Technology: Blessing or curse and the social divide caused by technology

Topics: Working class, Upper class, Social class Pages: 5 (1690 words) Published: May 4, 2005
The advent of electricity (technology) not only affected families internally, but it also affected social conditions, on-going economic change, new political trends, and cultural shifts over time. There was a revolution driven by technological, political, and economic services that changed the structures and practices that make up society. The development of electricity and new communication technologies transformed the way society socialized and communicated with one another.

The American era of modernization and the commercial era the followed produced a strong division between economic classes, ethnic groups and other racial divisions in America; such as those expressed in its economic, social and political events. In the 19th century the ruling classes were omnipotent while the working class was numerous and very poor. The social divide was extremely clear. Those in the position of power wanted to keep the power and new technologies amongst them selves. Marvin states, "Asymmetrics of dress, manner, and class that identified outsiders and were immediately obvious in face-to-face exchange were disturbingly invisible by telephone and telegraph, and therefore problematic and dangerous" (86). The elite of 19th Century wanted to keep the telephone to them selves because God forbid the common person get a hold of it, which would surely upset the hierarchy in class and status. Around the 1880's, the telephone was still a new idea and was regarded as a technology for the elites. But then the lower class also wanted usage of the technology and so the telephone became self-governing. There were social conflicts due to this because it was said that telephone was only needed by important people for example, doctors and businessmen. But in 1920s and 1930s, telephone evolved from being an object for the elite to being an object for everyone. Today the telephone has become more than a extravagance or a convenience; it has become essential to mans existence.

In the 19th Century, society was divided into three separate classes: The upper class, middle class, and the lower class. The upper classes were the individuals with money and power. The middle class was made up of factory owners, bankers, shopkeepers, merchants, lawyers, engineers, and other experts, in addition to some clergymen. The poor were also seen as the working class which included laborers and the poor also consisted or those that didn't work and was receiving some sort of charity or welfare. The world of the upper class was so entirely different from that of the lower class that among the wealthy, there was little understanding for the poor. Because there was little understanding, there was often little compassion, and rarely any really significant attempts to make the lives of the lower class any more agreeable. Eventually, most people were granted access to the telephone but it was no longer viewed as a luxury.

Those with little social power were considered outsiders and they were made fun of because they lacked the basic knowledge of how the telephone and electricity worked. There were some that didn't even know how to turn the lights off. The people that were in positions of power and authority couldn't fathom common people having use of these amenities. Even the people responsible for electricity were seen on a lower level then society's elite. The looked to the experts to maintain and repair technology, but didn't consider them on their level. Women were at a severe disadvantage because they weren't allowed to work out side of the house. When the telephone came along, they were sent off to become telephone operators.

Marvin also suggests that implementation of new technologies begins in documentary (or in virtual) reality with wild projections of massive transformation by futurologists and with descriptions of high hopes for the realization of widespread social and economic reform, and end up in actual reality with failed predictions and quashed hopes....
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