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This portion of the Course Project provides an analysis of the chosen technology's influence on society considering all of the following components:
How has this technology been received, accepted, or rejected? Why? Is it feared or favored? What is the attitude toward change? How are the developers trying to sell the technology to the general public? Look at attitudes, feelings (emotions), behaviors, personality, and the ways humans change as a result of this technology. What is being thought, and why? Is the human mind impacted? How? Are interactions between people changing as a result? Who is included or excluded, and why? Use Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Piaget, or some other theorist. What psychological needs are met by the technology (e.g., cell phones once granted status and now promote a sense of belonging or connectedness) or created by the technology? Consumerism?
Look at groups and organizations that have arisen and prospered because of this technology. Are these groups supportive or antagonistic, and why? (An example is genetically modified foods [GMOs] and the backlash against the Monsanto corporation. Another is cochlear implants that allow the deaf to hear yet reduce the deaf population that calls itself a community.) How does the technology change society, or how does society change in response to the technology? What factors in society led to the development in the first place? What do class, gender roles, race, norms, and the like mean in this context? Who will benefit from the technology, and who might be harmed (this might also belong in the ethics and morals section)? For example, prosthetics enable people to participate more fully and actively in society (some people compete in triathlons and marathons), and war has brought about the need for advances in prosthetic technology as casualties with missing limbs return home to the United States. Look at the workplace, new companies, and/or jobs created, jobs lost (or save this for the economics section, perhaps). Look at roles—subgroups, people's interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. Consider crime, healthcare, and schools. Surveillance cameras, for example, have recently been installed in New York City, and the result has been a decrease in the amount of crime, purse-snatching, pickpocketing, and so forth. Yet some fear the big-brother effect of always being watched and tracked, as well as concerns over 'who will guard the guards.'
This is a really important section. Consider the elements that comprise the culture and subcultures. Compare the United States’ use of the technology with that of other nations around the world. What is it about Americans that brings about innovation, or has America declined in terms of technical innovation, scientific research, and development? Look at advertising for the technology, the use of celebrities or stars or heroes, the applications (e.g., sports and nanotechnology), and the values represented by the culture. What has priority, and why? An example: IBM was spelled out in xenon atoms. Why were these letters chosen instead of something else? What new words have been added to our vocabulary from this technology? Horseless carriage was used long before the term automobile. Wireless preceded Wi-Fi, and webcasting preceded podcasting. Broadcast was a term adapted from agriculture long before it was used for radio and television.
How do musicians and artists react to, use, or incorporate the technology in their artistic productions? For example, fiber optic lighting has been used on the stage and in parades (Disney) for costuming. The drama term in the limelight, for example, was derived from a lens and lighting system used in lighthouses. Look at literature—perhaps science fiction or fantasy stories—that predate the technology (Jules Verne, for example, wrote about submarines before they were actually invented and used—though Leonardo da Vinci had sketched the idea centuries before Verne). Are there any songs, short stories, poems, plays, TV shows, or films that directly make reference to the technology? Are there any related literary works that apply? Is the artifact in a museum or will it be? Why? How does the technology relate to concepts of beauty and novelty and human creativity? How can people express their humanity through this technology? An example: Scientists experimenting with nano made a nano guitar that actually played a tune, though it was subthreshold to human hearing.
Look at government policy, government intervention, government involvement (support or lack of support, funding), both nationally and internationally. Consider Congress, the president, the Supreme Court (decisions), the rate of change, liberalism, conservatism, legislation, litigation, and so forth. What political factors are at work in the progression or regression of the technology (e.g. lobbyists, special interest groups, partisan views, vocal advocates, or spokespersons)? For example: The Americans with Disabilities Act was designed to prevent discrimination and encourage accessibility to public facilities; it impacted architects, companies, organizations, and persons with disabilities through the installation of ramps (wider doors, lower knobs and handles, larger restroom stalls), the use of assistive devices in schools and in the workplace, hiring practices, and lawsuits against employers, among other things.
Consider production, consumption, costs, variables of supply-demand, corporations, private enterprise, and impact on the nation's economy (employment, displacement, outsourcing). Are certain industries impacted more than others? Look up financial projections—expectations for growth, startup companies, the stock exchange, and so forth—anything related to business and the United States and global economy. Who are the chief players in the business environment, and what is their role? How much has been invested in research and development? How will the price fluctuate? What economic trends are to be observed? Who will make money from the technology? Who is funding the research and development? Who controls the purse strings, and why? Look at foundations and charitable organizations, the outcomes and the nature of consumers. Be sure to use charts and tables and quantitative data in this section. Tables, figures, and data and statistics must be current, valid, and used appropriately.
And the Environmental Impact
Consider such things as dangers to humans, the depletion of resources, air and water pollution, discovery before inventions, impact on wildlife and humans (health and safety), long-term and short-term effects, waste disposal, and aesthetic considerations (how the technology changes the landscape). Look also at the positive effects (savings of raw materials or fossil fuels, low environmental impact, enhancement to the environment). For example, some thought the Alaskan Pipeline would impact the caribou population and its ability to migrate; the scientists discovered that the population actually increased and was healthier because they had 'shade' from the above-the-ground pipe, fewer biting flies, and less physically stressed females.
Other negative examples: The spotted owl and deforestation in Washington State; the snail darter and the dam, endangered species and loss of habitats, extinction, over-mining, overproduction, pollution of ground water, landfills, toxic wastes, stripping the soil of nutrients, over fishing, over hunting, and over harvesting.
Ever since its inception, surveillance technologies have been accepted well by government officials as it gives them a chance to monitor the activities of the citizens. As a citizen, though, there has been quite a riff as putting oneself constantly under check is something everyone despises. The CCTV cameras installed in almost every corner of the city, although deemed important to keep a check on the well being of the citizens, seems like a breach of privacy to many, as seen in Figure 1 in the Annexure. 'Surveillance has to capacity to reinforce existing social divisions along the lines of age, ethnicity, gender and class.' (McCahill, 2007)
Post 9/11 in 2001, mass surveillance technology has created an uproar among the citizens. 9/11 unpredicted terror attack led to the start of this surveillance system. 16 years ago, the United States government increased the power of its National Security Agency to inspect and gather information on both its citizens and foreign subjects. While this seemed to be just a protection measure, Edward Snowden’s released documents painted a completely different picture. (Landau, 2013) In accordance with surveillance acts against the 9/11 terrorist attack, the NSA performed various acts of phone tapping, intercepting mail and collecting metadata of its citizens. While this is not new, but NSA’s “massive data-mining programs” (Stein, 2013) and the mass surveillance program surely brings to light an advanced method of espionage, which caused outrage among the people. “Arguably, the fact that the vast majority of the world’s Internet traffic passes through the US, giving the NSA access to it, is one of the issues that has made the Snowden files world news and a global concern.” (Cayford, 2014)
The human mind is thus constantly in a state of stress due to the constant monitoring of their day to day activities. Social media has also been included in this surveillance task. Major websites like Facebook, Microsoft, etc., have given in their support to keep a check on the doings of their users. The safety of people is going to be compromised if Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is to be put under consideration. Privacy breaches and regular surveillance have destroyed the peaceful atmosphere of the states. (With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy, 2014)
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