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New Culture and Technology - Essay Example

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New technologies play a crucial role in today's society. Given the intimate interaction between human beings and technology, it is no doubt that it has affected human lives as much as any other factor in history. Technology, however, also interacts with the process of culture formation and individuals' definition of self, illustrating an even greater impact in the lives of human beings…
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New Culture and Technology
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Download file to see previous pages Hence, in understanding the impact of new technologies what has become of culture
In Chapter 11 of his book Cultural Studies entitled "The Culture of New Communications Technology", Lewis (2002) discusses the interaction between culture, history, and new technology, and how such interactions impact on the formation of culture. As he argues, contrary to conventional cultural analysis where technology is understood in terms of its deterministic character in defining history and future social and cultural trends, a proper understanding of the role of new technologies in the formation of culture requires moving away from "periodization analysis" towards the study of "ideological and discursive disputes associated with new communications technology" (p.381). Culture, according to Lewis is described as the "assemblages of meanings and meaning-making processes", is a continuous process where "forms and facilities may simply be overlaid onto pre-existing processes and experiences" (p.382). Hence, it is the product of language and discourse. Understanding how different factors, in this case new technology, impact on its formation therefore requires understanding its impact on language and discourse. ...
Lewis illustrates this point by looking into the different forms of culture and the corresponding technologies that emerged through it. Beginning with oral culture, Lewis describes it with orality. Oral language, according to Lewis (2002), is associated with the increase of migration and travel across the globe where the need for more sophisticated means to communicate and transfer information became imperative (p.382). It therefore served as the means through which culture is communicated. However, since it is fixed in terms of time and space, it is dependent on memory and limited by an individual's ability to abstract and imagine symbols and concepts (pp.382-383). Thus, oral culture is therefore characterised by repetitiveness, ritualistic symbols and practices, and a perpetual focus on the present as a result of the communication technology utilised at the time. What is apparent, however, is that the emergence of technology is preceded by a cultural need. It is therefore contrary to periodization analysis, which treats technology as the cause (p.380), rather than the outcome of a cultural need.

Within writing and print culture, on the other hand, the impetus for a new technology was caused by the changing social arrangements from nomadic tribes to agricultural settlements, which required the need for tools to facilitate the management and control of resources (Lewis, 2002). Unlike oral language, writing and print technology are not bound by time nor limited by the constraints of memory and personal interaction. Thus, information dissemination became easier allowing the spread of ideas and ideologies. However, since it requires skill and equipment, it also created division and dominance, with its underpinning concepts of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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