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Technology and Capitalism - Essay Example

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In From the Frying Pan into the Fire, Arlie Russell Hochschild pondered on a Quaker Oat ad and found the underlying variable that defines American society and capitalism today – efficiency. …
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Technology and Capitalism
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Download file to see previous pages This advertisement peg for his discourse allowed Hochschild to strongly argue that American society is currently being flooded by goods and services that promises people – busy people – of saving their precious time. Meanwhile, Sherry Turkle discourse on technology in Alone Together reinforced this take on capitalism today by explaining how tools and machines such as the Internet, personal computers, mobile phones and gadgets all became indispensable in modern way of life. Capitalism and Efficiency The concept of efficiency has been put forward in Hochschild’s culture of time (184). The argument is that in modern America, people are faced with the time dilemma. Most individuals have to balance personal/family life with work and career and all things in between. Here, the experience of American mothers was used as an example. With the Quaker Oats ad, it was depicted how mothers find it extremely challenging to spend quality time with their children when their job and occupations are also vying for an equal degree of attention. Hochschild identified that breakfast cereal – as suggested by its marketer – emerged as the solution for the dilemma. Modern capitalism made this possible. The oat brand is delicious and healthy, solving several problems for children as it provides a quality mother-child experience at the breakfast table and solves the child’s requirement for attention, love and well-being. The deliciously prepared oat meal, which any child will supposedly love is seen to qualify as sufficient for parents in order for them to let their children know they are loved and taken cared of. Finally, the oatmeal and the ease in its preparation provided the mother an opportunity to lessen time spent at home so she could be at her work or at her appointment on time. Turkle’s discourse on technology further explained Hochschild’s conception of time, efficiency and the permeation of goods and services that cater to the past two variables. She used technology and how it affected the lives of people today as the basis for her insights. The analogy is that technology has successfully ingratiated itself in the lives of people today because it addresses their main vulnerabilities. For instance, Turkle argued that people today are lonely and technology provides a convenient and perfect answer by providing an illusion of companionship without the demand for friendship (263). The pattern is clear: people are becoming dependent on the goods and services that can meet their demands for time and efficiency. The consequence is that people are increasingly substituting them for what is real. Substitution In Hochschild’s observation, people still value the conventional concepts of human relationship such as the family. Here, work and all other preoccupations are supposedly being undertaken in order for the family to survive and, do so comfortably. Ironically, this brings them further to it because the culture of work relegated family as a mere ideal, separate from what is real. To many people, wrote Hochschild, family is important morally and that they certainly cherish such ideal but “we don’t link what we think with what we do,” or we often say at work that we “don’t walk the talk at home (186). This perspective – the encapsulation of family as a mere ideal - supposedly make people reconcile the dilemma of the competing meanings in modern capitalism and its impact on modern necessities to traditional concepts such as the family. With technology, Turkle, provided several examples to this emerging preference for illusion and the substitution of goods and services for what is real. She pointed out, for instance: Some people are looking for robots to clean rugs and help with the laundry. Others hope for a mechanical bride. As sociable ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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