IT in Education: Sociological Perspective The Development of IT & the Rise of the Postmodern & Internet Cultures Wing-kwong Tsang Ho Tim Bldg. Room 416; Ext. 6922; email@example.com; www.fed.cuhk.edu.hk/~wktsang
The Development of IT and the Constitution of Post-traditional Society • Conceptions of culture • Clifford Geertz’s conception: “The concept of culture I espouse …is essentially a semiotic one. Believing …that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of meaning.” (Geertz, 1994, p. 214)
Constitution of Post-traditional Society • Conceptions of culture • Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s conception of culture as the symbolic universe of a society: • By symbolic universes, Berger and Luckmann mean "bodies of theoretical tradition that integrate different provinces of meaning and encompass the institutional order in a symbolic totality." (1967, p. 113) • "The symbolic universe is conceived of as the matrix of all socially objectivated and subjectively real meanings; the entire historic society and the entire biography of the individual are seen as events taking place within this universe." (p.114)
Constitution of Post-traditional Society • Explaining culture: • To sum up, the concept of culture refers to a system of meanings, a semiotic web, or a symbolic universe, which informs, legitimatizes and integrates the “whole way of life” of a given people. • By legitimation, it refers to the motives and reasons for members of the group to voluntarily obey and spontaneously observe the prevailing way of life is that they genuinely believe in the meaningfulness and values of their conformity. This legitimation basis can further be differentiated into:
Constitution of Post-traditional Society • Explaining culture: • Cognitive validity: It refers to knowledge systems accumulated in a culture, which provide valid explanations to why we have to comply with the prevailing way of life. One of the most prominent cognitive validity in modern culture is the scientific-technological knowledge and most recently the IT knowledge. • Normative dignity: It refers to the norms and values accumulated in a culture, which offer normative justification why we have to conform to a particular way of life. One of the significant normative bases in human culture is religious believes.
Constitution of Post-traditional Society • Issues of symbolic-universe maintenance under globalization • Globalization entails compression of two essential constituents of culture, i.e. time and place, or history and geography of a society/nation • “A major occasion for the development of universe-maintaining conceptualization arises when a society is confronted with another society having greatly different history. The problem posed by such a confrontation is typically sharper than that posed by intra-societal heresies because here there is an alternative symbolic universe with an ‘official’ tradition whose taken-for-granted objectivity is equal to one’s own.” (Berger and Luckmann, 1976, 125) • Therefore, the legitimation basis of a culture undergoes multilateral threats as it comes to contact with other cultures in the global-informational age
Constitution of Post-traditional Society • Detradionalization and the rise of post-traditional society • “A post-tradition social order…is not one in which tradition disappears - far from it. It is one in which tradition changes its status. Traditions have to explain themselves, to become open to interrogation or discourse. … In a globalizing, culturally cosmopolitan society, traditions become forced into open view: reasons or justifications have to be offered for them.” (Giddens, 1994, p.23)
Constitution of Post-traditional Society • Detradionalization and the rise of post-traditional society • The proliferation of fundamentalism in global-informational age: "The rise of fundamentalism has to be seen against the backdrop of the emergence of the post-traditional society. … What is fundamentalism? It is, so I shall argue, nothing other than tradition defended in the tradition way - but where that mode of defence has become widely called into question. … In a globally cosmopolitan order … such a defence become dangerous, because essentially it is a refusal of dialogue." (Giddens, 1994, p.23) • An explanation of the September 11 incidence: Terrorism in post-traditional and global societies
Cultural logic of late capitalism and information society • Production of information and knowledge replacing production of manufacturing goods, especially heavy industrial goods, as the core of productivity enhancement and wealth accumulation in the economy • The rise of mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, and mass communication • Mass communication by means of publication of books and newspapers in the 19th century • Mass communication by means of radio in early 20th century • Mass communication by means of movie industry since 1930s century • Mass communication by means of television since 1960s • Mass communication by means of Computer Mediated Communication (CMC)
Cultural logic of late capitalism • Commodification in capitalism • Accelerations of the commoditfication cycle: MCPC’M’, i.e. Money capital Commodity (i.e. labor and the means of production) Production Commodity (products) Money • The separation of use value and exchange value in production • Commodification can then be defined as a process of replacement of use value by exchange use as the primary objective in human production • The consequence of commodification is the elicitation of the phenonmana of reification and alienation
Cultural logic of late capitalism • The commodification of culture and information • The use value of cultural products: Communicative values and meaningfulness • The exchange value of cultural products: Marketability and saleability of cultural products • Reifying cultural meaningfulness embedded in cultural products into cultural commodities and regressing culture production and creation into cultural industries and cultural mass-production • Culture of signifiers of “referent depth” was replaced by self-referencing and free-floating signifiers, information, data, icon….
Cultural logic of late capitalism • The commodification of culture and information • Empirically and objectively existing reality replaced by hyper-reality and virtual reality • The proliferation of simulacra and the coming of the culture of simulacra
Cultural logic of late capitalism • The commodification of culture and information • Empirically and objectively existing reality replaced by hyper-reality and virtual reality • The proliferation of simulacra and the coming of the culture of simulacra • The culture of heritage and tradition was replaced by culture of pastiche and hybrid • The culture of places was first commodified as property-development projects and then re-commodified as the culture of flow of global icons, theme parks, UNIESCO Cultural Heritage, etc.
The Rise of the Culture of Consummerism • Retreat of culture of production and spirit of capitalism: Culture of asceticism, endurance, industrious, enterprising and investment • Constituents of culture of consumerism • Hedonism: Consumption as desire-satisfaction was replaced by consumption as desire-creation. “Desire does not desire satisfaction. To the contrary, desire desires desire." (Bauman, 1998, p. 25) • Ephemeralism: "Consumer goods are meant to be used up and to disappear; the idea of temporariness and transitoriness is intrinsic to their very denomination as objects of consumption" (Bauman, 1998, P.28)
The Rise of the Culture of Consummerism • Constituents of culture of consumerism • Instantaneousness: "Ideally, the consumer's satisfaction ought to be instant, and this in a double sense. Consumed goods should bring satisfaction immediately, requiring no delay, no protracted learning of skills and no lengthy groundwork; but the satisfaction should end the moment the time needed for their consumption is up, and that time ought to be reduced to a bare minimum." (Bauman, 1998, p. 25) • Fetishism: From consumption of commodity to collection of commodity; from consumption as act of desire-satisfaction to consumption (or possession) as identification of status and life style
The Rise of the Culture of Consummerism • Global consumerism as “common culture” of globally mobile psyche • The common consumption conditions of the globally mobile psyche • Hoilday-Inn-ization • Starbucks-ization • MacDonold-ization • Nike-ization • Hollywood-ization • Disneyland-ization • …. • Identities based on space of places, such as nation, are replaced by space of flows of mechanizes and “commercialized life style”
The Culture of the Internet • The techno-meritocratic culture: Legitimacy and supremacy of technological merits and achievements within the egalitarian peer-review system • The hacker culture: • “A shared belief in the power of computer networking, and a determination to keep this technological power as a common goods - at least for the community of hackers.” (Castells, 2001, p. 52) • The hackers believe that they should and could “build their social autonomy on the Internet, fighting to preserve their freedom against the intrusion of the powers that is, including corporate media takeover of their Internet service providers,” (ibid, p. 51), i.e. fight for people’s “right to encrypt” against the government and “right to decrypt” against corporations.
The Culture of the Internet • The hacker culture: • Virtual communitarians: “While the communitarian source of the Internet culture is highly diverse in its contents, it does specify the Internet as a technological medium for horizontal (equal and undistorted) communication, as a new form of free speech. It also lays the foundation for self-directed networking as a tool for organization, collective action, and the construction of meaning.” (ibid, p.55) • Entrepreneurs: “The realization of the potential of transforming mind power into money-making became the cornerstone of the entrepreneurial culture in Silicon Valley and the Internet industry at large. … Internet entrepreneurs sell the future because they believe they can make it. They rely on their know-how to create products and processes that they are convinced will conquer the market.” (ibid, Pp.56-57) Hence, stock option and venture capital are two primary constituents in Internet industry.
The Culture of the Internet • The Hacker ethics • Linus’s Law: “Linus’s law says that all of our motivations fall into three basic categories. … The categories, in order, are ‘survival,’‘social life,’ and ‘entertainment’. (Torvalds, 2001, p.xiv) “A ‘hacker’ is a person who gone past using his computer for survival (‘I bring home the bread by programming’) to the next two stage. He (or, in theory but all too seldom in practice) uses the computer for his social ties – e-mail and Net are great ways to have a community. But to the hacker a computer is also entertainment. Not the games, not the pretty pictures on the Net. The computer itself is entertainment.” (ibid, p.xvii)
The Culture of the Internet • The Hacker ethics • Hackers’work ethic • “For the hacker, ‘the computer itself is entertainment,’ meaning that the hacker programs because he finds programming intrinsically interesting, exciting, and joyous.” (Himanen, 2001, p.3) • From The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism to Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age: Sundayization of Friday • Nethic (network ethic): • Freedom of speech: Decrypt against government censorship and corporation monopoly • Privacy: Encrypt against government and corporation surveillance and profiling • Self-directed activity
The Development of IT & the Rise of the Postmodern & Internet Cultures END