This paper evaluates arguments put forward by various authors Ron Kaufman and Laknath and Ritson with respect to the effect of television on our lives. This analysis will be based on two concepts: technological determinism theory and social shaping perspective.
First, it is essential to understand these two concepts. Technological determinism theory holds that society’s technology influences the society’s cultural values and social structure. In other words, this theory proposes that technological advancements, as well as productive technology, shape social relations. Besides, society’s economic and technological base shape the cultural practices and social relations of that society. Therefore, technology plays a critical role in shaping society’s social and cultural practices.
Secondly, the social shaping of technology (SST) perspective denotes that there are choices within the design of systems and individual artifacts, as well as in the trajectory of innovations. According to this theory, technology can emerge from predetermined logic. In other words, innovation can be perceived as a garden of divergent paths. This explanation means that there are various routes available that can lead to divergent technological outcomes. This perspective explores the material effects of technological choices. Unlike the technological determinism that suggests technology follows its own development path, beyond human influences, and consequently impacting on the society, SST sees the relationship between technology and society as mutual.
In the first augment, Kaufman (2007) brings into the limelight the argument pointed by McLuhan; T. V images are not necessarily truthful and that T. V ads have created a host of distressing social impacts. According to James Joyce, as illuminated by Kaufman (2007), T. V ads shape the viewers’ subconscious ink-linings. T. V, according to Kaufman (2007), has become a medium through which western culture stampedes on society. To him, T. V continues to alter meaning and reality. People’s minds are continuously influenced through T. V ads. This phenomenon happens because people tend to believe in the images in Television. In addition, Kaufman (2007) illuminates how T. V ads combine primal emotions with simple messages, and they promote three mechanisms which include individual superiority, entitlement of consumption and acceptance off stupidity.
Unfortunately, according to Kaufman (2007), US citizens and other populations that religiously follow T. V ads, internalize these three values, and in the process, logic and rationality are bypassed, but the commandments of T. V ads are embraced. From this argument, Kaufman uses the SST theory. SST sees the relationship between technology and society as mutual. In other words, people’s behaviors, values, and culture at large are shaped by technology. T. V has managed to influence the culture and behavior of the Western people, most importantly in the US. As noted, T. V ads combine primal emotions with simple messages, and they promote three mechanisms which include individual superiority, entitlement of consumption and acceptance off stupidity. These outcomes are, as a result of, mutual relationship between T. V (technology) and society.
In the second excerpt, Laknath and Ritson (2012) argue that in the current society, everyday activity and family interaction show how television advertisements are perceived and interpreted at home. These authors note that there is a link between levels of domestic tension and materialism that originate from pester power and advertisement viewing at home. In other words, skilled advertisement viewers have been found alter, as well as personalize their family’s perception of T. V ads in a manner that rhymes with their families. The explanation put forward Laknath and Ritson (2012) seem to use the technological determinism theory in their research and arguments.
During their study, Laknath and Ritson (2012) put cameras in various houses to gauge the occupants’ reactions to T. V ads. Their study revealed that households’ responses to advertisements, as well as engagements, are shaped by T. V ads’ quality and technologies. In order to have better influence, advertisers must put into consideration how family interact, time and place of viewing the ad, and media multitasking during the generation of T. V ads. Laknath and Ritson (2012) argue that different families may interpret and respond to a single ad differently. According to technological determinism theory, technology plays a critical role in shaping society’s social and cultural practices. Depending on the level of influence technology has had on a given family, the manner in which such a family perceives and responds to a T. V ad may vary from their neighbors.
In conclusion, this paper has evaluated two arguments put forward by Ron Kaufman and Laknath and Ritson with respect to the effect of television on our lives. The task at hand involved finding out the argument that takes the form of SST or technological determinism. From this analysis, SST sees the relationship between technology and society as mutual. On the other hand, technological determinism proposes that technological advancements, as well as productive technology, shape social relations. Besides, society’s economic and technological base shape the cultural practices and social relations of that society. The argument put forward by Ron Kaufman was based on SST while that of Laknath and Ritson was based on technological determinism theory.
Laknath J. & Ritson, M. (2012). Everyday advertising context an ethnography of advertising response in the family living room. Journal of Consumer Research, pp. 1-10.
Kaufman, R. (2007). A Nation of Morons: Is Television making us Stupid? Retrieved from http://www. turnoffyourtv. com/commentary/morons/stupid. html