SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AS AN AGENT OF SOCIAL CHANGE
Paper 2 – Chapter 10 – Social Change in Modern Society:
(a) Sociological theories of social change.
(b) Development and dependency.
(c) Agents of social change.
(d) Education and social change.
(e) Science, technology and social change.
Science generates solutions for everyday life and helps us to answer the great mysteries of the universe. In other words, science is one of the most important channels of knowledge. It has a specific role, as well as a variety of functions for the benefit of our society: creating new knowledge, improving education, and increasing the quality of our lives.
WHAT IS SCIENCE?
The word Science comes from Latin word “scientia” meaning “knowledge” and in the broadest sense it is any systematic knowledge-base or prescriptive practice capable of resulting in prediction. Science can also be understood as a highly skilled technique or practice. In more contemporary terms, science is a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific process or method in order to organize a body of knowledge gained through research.
Technology is the application of scientific knowledge to the making of tools to solve specific problems. Technological advances such as automobiles, airplanes, radio, television, cellular phones, computers, modems, and fax machines have brought major advances and changes to the world. Indeed, 20th century technology has completely—and irreversibly—changed the way people meet, interact, learn, work, play, travel, worship, and do business. Technological information increases exponentially: The entire database of scientific knowledge doubles every several years. This “technological explosion” is due in part to an “Information explosion,” as well as to advances in storage, retrieval, and communication of data. In other words, a cycle occurs: Improvements in technology lead to increases in knowledge and information and, thus, to uncovering the means to create better technology. Consequently, sociologists are concerned with how technological societies will be forced to adapt to the social changes that improvements in technology will continue to bring.
DEFINITION OF SOCIAL CHANGE
(i) Jones. “Social change is a term used to describe variations in, or modifications of, any aspect of social processes, social patterns, social interaction or social organisation.”
(ii) Mazumdar, H. T. “Social change may be defined as a new fashion or mode, either modifying or replacing the old, in the life of a people, or in the operation of a society.”
IMPACT ON SOCIETY
Technology and Industrialization:
The factories have brought down the prices of commodities, improved their quality and maximized their output. The whole process of production is mechanized. Consequently the traditional skills have declined and good number of artisans has lost their work. Huge factories could provide employment opportunities to thousands of people. Hence men have become workers in a very large number. The process of industrialization has affected the nature, character and the growth of economy. It has contributed to the growth of cities or to the process of urbanization. Slums, deprivation and increasing crime are its negative impacts.
Technology and Modernization:
Modernization is a process that indicates the adoption of the modern ways of life and values. It refers to an attempt on the part of the people particularly those who are custom-bound to adapt themselves to the present-time, conditions, needs, styles and ways in general. It indicates a change in people’s food habits, dress habits, speaking styles, tastes, choices, preferences, ideas, values, recreational activities and so on. People in the process of getting modernized give more importance to science and technology.
Development of the means of transport and communication:
Post and telegraph, radio and television, newspapers and magazines, telephone and wireless and the like have developed a great deal. The space research and the launching of the satellites for communication purposes have further added to these developments. They have helped the people belonging to different corners of the nation or the world to have regular contacts.
Changes in social institutions:
Technology has profoundly altered our modes of life. Technology has not spared the social institutions of its effects. The institutions of family, religion, morality, marriage, state, property have been altered. Modern technology in taking away industry from the household has radically changed the family organization. Many functions of the family have been taken away by other agencies. Marriages are becoming more and more unstable. Instances of divorce, desertion and separation are increasing. Technology has elevated the status of women.
Religion is losing hold over the members. People are becoming more secular, rational and scientific but less religious in their outlook. Inventions and discoveries in science have shaken the foundations of religion. The function of the state or the field of state activity has been widened. Modern technology has made the states to perform such functions as -the protection of the aged, the weaker section and the minorities making provision for education, health care etc. The modern governments that rule through the bureaucracy have further impersonalized the human relations. The most striking change in modern times is the change in economic organization. Industry has been taken away from the household and new type of economic organizations have been set up such as factories, stores, banks, corporations etc.
Science must respond to societal needs and global challenges. Public understanding and engagement with science, and citizen participation including through the popularization of science are essential to equip citizens to make informed personal and professional choices. Governments need to make decisions based on quality scientific information on issues such as health and agriculture, and parliaments need to legislate on societal issues which necessitate the latest scientific knowledge. National governments need to understand the science behind major global challenges such as climate change, ocean health, biodiversity loss and freshwater security. To face sustainable development challenges, governments and citizens alike must understand the language of science and must become scientifically literate. On the other hand, scientists must understand the problems policy-makers face and endeavor to make the results of their research relevant and comprehensible to society.