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The word “social technology” is a bit of a contradiction. Social technologies connect us like never before, but at the same time the superficiality of our social world, and our isolation, seem greater then ever. We are embarrassed by the rich emptiness of our world. Then again, maybe all you need to do to make rich connections is pick up a copy of BF3 where we can experience rich, genderless, race-less, class-less connections with others. It may nor be idea, but the contradictory and confusing brave new world of social technology is definitely something to think about.

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Here is an assignment/essay by a student in my Sociology 460 Technology course. I’m including it here because of the great way this student highlights the ambivalent impact of technology on our lives. As he clearly identifies, it is not all wine and roses. Many people are impacted negatively. In fact, when you consider it carefully, the overall impact may be decidedly negative. As evidenced by the growing gap between rich and poor, and as Warren Buffet has recently admitted, technology has allowed the rich and powerful to win the class war.

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Here’s a paper by a student in my Sociology 460 class. Great analysis of control strategies, oppression, even deskilling the labour process. There’s also some stuff on panoptic observation and control that would make Foucault proud. All in all an excellent use of the sociological imagination.

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Here’s an essay posted by a student in my Sociology 460 Class at Athabasca University. It is a very insightful view of the disconnecting effect that technology has. If you grew up with social media you might think that it connects in better ways than ever before, but to somebody like me who grew up before computers, it is nothing but an invasive disconnect. Let it in and it fills your life space with triviality and meaningless social soundbites that, because of their hopeless superficiality, can never fulfill our deep, almost spiritual need, for connected, and meaningful social relationships. Technology good for business? Maybe, but as a social lubricant maybe it promises more than it can offer.

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This student essay was submitted for Sociology 435 (The Sociology of Social Change) at Athabasca University. It is a critical examination of  the “heinous” way the media treated the aids epidemic, and their absolute disregard for social responsibility or the …

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The view propogated by the media companies and sellers of technology is that technology is freedom. From early dishwashers to the recent spate of ads hawking the latest social phones, technology leads to utopia. But does it? Does being connected 24/7 through multiple devices really lead to quality of life, or does it degrade life and provide one other way for us to be monitored, controlled, and over worked?

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The scholarly propaganda is simple, technology makes the world a better place. We are moving towards a post-industrial utopia characterized by human care and service, and away from our dark, industrial, and exploitative past. Hogwash says this student who, after familiarizing herself with the debates notes that despite the propaganda of a caring and connected world, the reality is more of the same. Sweatshops, child labour, and the violation of human rights go hand in our with our Western technological fetish.

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