7 Jul 2022


Influence of Technological Progress on Change in Culture

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

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Technological progress is one of the features that define modern society. Today, mankind has developed a wide range of technologies that have redefined nearly all human pursuits. For example, firms are able to adopt new technologies in their production processes. Communication and transport are other human endeavors that have witnessed transformation thanks to progress made in the development of new technologies. Culture is undoubtedly one of the aspects of human life that have undergone the most significant change. Technology is shaping the culture of nearly all human communities that have had some interaction with technological progress (Hutchby & Moran-Ellis, 2013). Culture is not some passive subject of manipulation; it has also shaped technology. As communities recognize the need to move with the times, they embrace technology. As the technology takes root, the cultures of these communities undergo redefinition. For the most part, the influence of technology on culture has been positive. This is not to say that technology has not presented any negative outcomes. In fact, technology is to blame for the erosion and the challenges that different cultures across the globe are grappling with. Whereas they are significant, the negative impacts of technology should not distract from the many positive outcomes that cultures have witnessed due to the adoption of technology. Technological progress remains a key driver of global cultures.

Impact on freedom, expression and political structures 

Social media is among the products of advances in technology. Such social media platforms as Facebook boast of hundreds of millions of active users. Thanks to social media, communities have found new freedom. These communities range from ethnic minorities to marginalized groups such as women. In past years, voiceless and powerless communities had no platform for unhindered expression. For example, in the Arab world, governments implemented oppressive policies which robbed their people of their voice and dignity. Social media has changed this. Gone are the days when people would suffer in silence and without protest. The Arab Spring is an example of the role that modern technology is playing in empowering communities and challenging them to demand reforms. During this revolution, hundreds of thousands of passionate defenders of freedom and justice took to the streets. Analysis of these protests reveals that such social media tools as Twitter were used extensively (Bruns, Highfield & Burgess, 2013). The protestors used Twitter to organize mass demonstrations and to invite others to take part in the revolution. While whether the Arab revolution succeeded in introducing reforms is debatable, what is clear is that technology has shaped the culture of the Arab world.

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The Arab world is not isolated in the transformation that it has witnessed thanks to technological progress. The West has also undergone cultural changes that can be attributed to advances in technology. Today, minorities and victims of injustice are using social media and other technological tools to push for change. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement has leveraged the power of social media to advocate for an end to police brutality and other injustices against the African American community (Carney, 2016). Women have also used such platforms as Twitter to organize protests which seek to promote equality and to tackle injustices. The role that social media plays in fueling cultural change is clear. Thanks to social media, a new culture of defiance and courage is emerging. Technological progress has empowered groups that previously endured injustice to stand up and be heard. Recently, thousands of students held protests to call for gun law reforms. These protests were held in the wake of a school shooting in Florida which left a trail of death and tears. Using social media, the students managed to rally others to join them (Reuters, 2018). The student protests underscore the impact that technological progress has had on culture. Due to this progress, high school students are now becoming defenders of human life. As more progress is made in the development of technology, the world should expect to see more communities being emboldened and taking charge of their own destinies.

Impact on communication and information sharing 

Previously, communities used traditional and outdated methods to communicate. This is no longer the case thanks to technological progress. Today, communities are using complicated tools and processes to communicate and to share information. Farid Shirazi (2013) recognizes the impact that technological progress has had on communication and the sharing of information in an article that he authored. After conducting an investigation, he concludes that “social media tools available via the internet have provided web users across the globe effective tools and services to share and disseminate information by interactively collaborating with each other” (Shirazi, 2013, p.29). Shirazi points out two interesting realities that have resulted from social media. One, social media allows for better communication. Two, and the most important, social media is providing communities with tools and channels for collaboration and closer interactions. The situation today stands in sharp contrast to the state of the world in past years. In the past, communities existed in isolation and had minimal contact with the outside world. Thanks to advances in such technologies as social media, communities are now able to abandon the comfort of their own company and establish rewarding relationships with others. Shirazi is not alone in acknowledging the far-reaching impacts of technological progress on information sharing and communication. In her article, Kathleen Carley (1995) recognized that technology facilitates the diffusion of knowledge while enhancing cultural homogeneity. Basically, Carley recognizes that as a result of technological progress, cultures are undergoing redefinitions and are gaining better tools for sharing information.

No discussion on the impact that technology has on culture would be complete without a look at how various technologies have shaped the modern workplace. Workplace communication has undergone noticeable changes (Widen, 2017). It is true that most organizations require their employees to use established channels to communicate in a formal fashion. Technologies such as social media are challenging this manner of communicating. As millennials make their way to the workplace, they carry with them their tech-savviness and preference for informal language and social media (Widen, 2017). Some companies recognize that it is counter-productive to tackle the changes that technology is bringing to the workplace. These companies have embraced social media and its associated informality. For example, technology companies like Google are known for their millennial-friendly policies which discourage strict and formal approaches (Widen, 2017). Going forward, more and more firms are likely to understand that it is impossible to prevent the cultural changes resulting from technological progress. The world should expect to see the adoption of communication styles and procedures that are consistent with modern technologies in the workplace.

Impacts on family and communities 

The internet is a fairly recent development. During its infancy, fears were raised that it would erode family ties. While these fears were valid and sound, they have not been realized. Writing for the Washington Post, Donna St. George assured those who were concerned that the family would suffer as more members embrace such technologies as social media. In an interesting piece that she penned, St. George observed that “researchers reported that family life has not been weakened, as many had feared, by new technology.” She goes on to report that “families have compensated for the stress and hurry of modern life with cellphones, e-mail and text messages and other new forms of communication” (St. George, 2008). St. George’s report is indeed assuring as it puts to rest the fears that technology damages the family. However, individuals need to remember that to ensure the stability of the family and the community at large, deliberate and concerted effort is needed.

In an earlier section of this discussion, it was noted that technology has facilitated communication within and between communities. Ronald Brownstein makes this clear in his article. He points out that advances in technology have made it easier for individuals to establish lasting, meaningful and rewarding connections (Brownstein, 2015). Brownstein adds that technology has changed the very concept of community. In the past, communities were made up of individuals with a common language, traditions and practices. While this is still true, the definition of community has been expanded. Today, for one to belong to a particular community, they simply need to subscribe to its culture. Technology has become a powerful glue that strengthens and enhances communities.

Impact on art and language 

Art offers individuals an avenue for creative expression. Since the establishment of human societies, art has played a prominent role in driving progress. The developments in various technologies have enabled art to play even more important roles in promoting the growth of human societies. Kristin Thomson, Kristen Purcell and Lee Raine (2013) authored an article that examines the implications that technological progress has presented for art and artists. Quoting organizations that represent artists, this trio notes that such technologies as the internet have allowed artists to engage with their audiences in an enhanced manner (Thomson, Purcell & Raine, 2013). They add that as a result of integration of technology into art, works of art have become more interactive and participatory. Previously, the creation of art was the exclusive mandate of the artists. Today, audiences are able to play a more active role in the creation of captivating works of art. Another effect that technology has had on art is that it has broadened its definition (Thomson, Purcell & Raine, 2013). This definition has been expanded to include works of art that in previous years, would not be considered artistic. Overall, technological progress has facilitated artistic expression. It has allowed artists to reach and appeal to wider audiences.

Language is the primary tool that individuals use to communicate with one another. For years, language remained stable and unchanged. This was until the world began to witness an unprecedented development in technology. Due to this development, language has changed significantly. Among the changes that technological progress has introduced is the introduction of new words, phrases and expressions into language (Kleinman, 2010). To keep up with technological progress, communities have had to update their languages. For example ‘to Google’ is now an accepted verb in the English language. Such other words as ‘tweet’ have also found their way into the English vocabulary thanks to technological progress. These new words are evidence that language is attempting to reflect the technological changes that mankind is implementing. At the current pace, dozens of new words will continue to find their way into the vocabularies of established languages. The adoption of the new words and phrases indicates that technological progress has an enriching effect on language. Apart from expanding the vocabulary, technological progress is challenging communities to keep up with change.

Negative impacts 

The discussion above has explored the many positive effects that technological progress continues to have on culture. However, in the interest of depth and fairness, a look at some of the negative consequences of the technological progress is needed. One of the elements of culture that have suffered due to the progress is the family. Noelle Chesley (2005) addresses how technology has impacted family dynamics. After carrying out a study, she observed that technology has blurred the line that separates work and family (Chesley, 2005). This means that as individuals adopt technology, they lose sense of the importance of separating family and work. For example, there are working people who carry their work to their homes. This hampers their ability to focus on their families. The situation that these individuals are confronted with contrasts sharply to the situation in previous years. Before technology invaded families, members were united in tight unions. Mothers cooked for their children while fathers tucked them in for sleep. It is indeed unfortunate that the strong bonds that characterized families in the past are disappearing. Chesley adds that as modern technology spills over into the family, individuals are suffering distress and are deriving less satisfaction from their families (Chesley, 2005). To prevent further erosion of family ties and dynamics, urgent and deliberate action is needed. Working parents need to redraw the lines which made it clear that work should never invade the family.

One of the critical roles that the family and one’s community play is that they are a source of comfort and companionship. These social structures remind individuals of the importance of making sacrifices for others. As the discussion above has revealed, technology is eroding family and community dynamics. The emergence of narcissistic behavior is evidence of the negative impacts for which technology is responsible. Citing research findings, Lynne Malcolm (2014) warns that the world is witnessing an increase in narcissistic behavior among young people. She blames this development on technology. For one to understand how technology is fueling narcissistic tendencies, they simply need to observe young users of social media users. Today, young individuals are obsessed with themselves and have developed an insatiable desire for validation. Collaborating with other scholars, Sylwia Cisek (2014) echoes the concerns that Malcolm raises. These scholars conducted a study to investigate the emerging trends as regards narcissism and consumerism (Cisek et al., 2014). While they do not attribute this trend to technology, they make it clear that the world is becoming more narcissistic and obsessed with material items. Technology is clearly the culprit. It is exposing the greed and selfishness of man. The world needs to engage in some soul-searching and restore the family to its former state. It is also vital to use technology cautiously and ensure that it does not deny individuals of the warmth and support that social structure such as families offer.

Instilling values and perspectives on their members is one of the functions that societies and families serve. For example, parents are expected to teach their children such values as respect for others. Technology is robbing families and communities of the power and effectiveness in bringing up generations of cultured and well-mannered individuals. The proliferation of adult content serves as evidence that technology is negatively affecting families and communities. Today, pornographic content is easily available thanks to technology (Klaassen & Jochen, 2014). Every year, millions of videos that depict adult content are made available on the internet. Aleks Krotoski provides an astonishing fact on the amount of adult content on the internet. She states that “it is true that one in 10 websites features pornographic material, and also that you need only to barely scratch the surface of the upstanding face of the web to find communities gathered around all kinds of debased kinks” (Krotoski, 2011). What causes concern is that it is nearly impossible to regulate how adult content is produced and distributed. Recently, the UK government announced plans to introduce a policy that would require sites hosting adult content to implement stricter age verification mechanisms. The government has been forced to push forward the date of introducing this plan because it has been difficult to develop practical and effective measures to ensure that minors do not access the adult content (Titcomb, 2018). The example of the efforts of the UK government highlights the damage that technology is causing. As mankind progresses, more and more people will gain access to such technologies as the internet. This means that communities need to brace for further erosion of their values and beliefs.

Minors are particularly susceptible to sexual corruption. This is why societies tend to adopt policies that shelter young individuals from exposure to unhealthy and destructive sexual content and practice. In the discussion above, technology has been assigned blame for exposing young minds to adult content. While children are most vulnerable, young adults have also been shown to face the risk of developing developmental issues in their sexual lives. Olusesan Asekun-Olarinmoye (2014) led a team of Nigerian scholars to investigate the effect of mass media and internet technologies on the sexual health of young adults. The observations that they made are worrying and should prompt action from concerned stakeholder. They observed that when young adults are exposed to excessive and uncontrolled internet usage, they display patterns of unhealthy sexual behavior (Asekun-Olarinmoye et al., 2014). The influence of technology on sexual behavior and health of young people suggests that cultures are losing their grip. In most conservative societies, the culture dictates appropriate sexual behavior. As a result of technological progress, societies are witnessing a decline in morality and the emergence of inappropriate sexual patterns.

The negative impacts of technology that have been discussed above are indeed significant and grave. Left unaddressed, these impacts could render the positive effects of technological progress irrelevant and meaningless. However, as is clear from the discussion above, the positive effects of technology outweigh the negative impacts. Moreover, the positive consequences go beyond culture. Such pursuits as industrial production and transportation have been enhanced. Therefore, instead of being worried that technological progress will spell doom for mankind, the world needs to revamp its efforts in accelerating the technological progress.


Culture assigns individuals an identity and a heritage. Thanks to culture, individuals are able to belong to and identify with a particular community. Nearly all cultures are versatile and dynamic. Instead of being rigid and unchanging, culture tends to respond to the reality that a community is facing. Today, technological progress is among the phenomena that are shaping communities. This progress has had far-reaching impacts on various aspects of culture. It has redefined such issues as art, information sharing and communication and the values that a community upholds. Technological progress is also shaping family life. Not all the consequences of technological progress are positive. Some of the negative impacts of this progress include the erosion of the moral fabric and the emergence of unhealthy sexual patterns and behaviors. The net effect of technological progress is positive. However, serious effort is needed to address the negative consequences of the progress. As communities join forces to rid technology of its negative impacts, they will be safeguarding their cultures while creating an environment that allows inter-cultural interactions to thrive.


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