Does technology ultimately promote equality and enhance social relations?

I would welcome the guidance of anyone able to allay my fears, as well as the opinions of those sharing similar concerns, regarding the following:

 

As a PGCE (LLS) Sociology student, I am anxious for many reasons about the emphasis the government insists we place on incorporating numeracy, literacy and ICT (in particular) into lessons.  As Ken Robinson points out in his inspirational speech regarding the ways in which schools kill creativity: “Every education system on Earth has the same hierarchy of subjects: at the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts.”[i]  For me, although sound numeracy, literacy and ICT skills are obviously important, especially in our ever-evolving technological age, elevating the significance of these skills/subjects above other rich fields of study, intelligences and talents has, I believe, the potential to inhibit rather than promote equality and diversity. 

 

As a Sociologist in admiration of Marxist philosophy (amongst others), I fear technology could become another means of alienation; firstly, state of the art ICT tools (relentlessly updated objects of consumption) are not free and are therefore not accessible to all.  Secondly, the effects of virtual social networking, for example, arguably have a detrimental effect on ‘real’ human interaction and social relations.  As a result, in these digital, globalised times, I am becoming increasingly preoccupied with the profound words of Jean Jacques Rousseau in his ‘Discourse on the Origin of Inequality’:

 

They all ran to chain themselves, in the belief that they secured their liberty, for although they had enough sense to realise the advantages of a political establishment, they did not have enough experience to foresee its dangers.[ii]

 

Accordingly, regarding technology, although its educational advantages are explicit in our progressive society, in terms of equality and social relations in the long-term, I fear that collectively we, too, have become enchained and lack the experience to foresee its dangers.

 

 



[i] Robinson, K., (2012)  ‘Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity’ [Online] Available from:

http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity....

(Accessed 1 January 2013)

[ii] Miller, 1992: vii, in Rousseau (1992; Orig. 1755: 56)

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