Technology and Social Relations


I obtained this book through Google books. Gunilla Bradley is a scholar with wide background in many areas. She possesses Bachelor’s degrees in sociology, pedagogics, psychology, and ethnography. She also pursued Medical studies in Karolinska Institute, in Sweden. She became a licensed psychologist in 1972. In 1973, at Gothenburg University, she attained a Ph. D in Educational Psychology. In 1984, she attained a full professorship in Technology and Social Change. She has written books that touch on the relationship between human society and technology. Her experience in sociology and psychology has inspired her to assume a unique take on technological academic studies, which do not usually involve writing of books.

Bradley’s research on the linkage between ICT and human beings began in 1973. She has since called the field social informatics. In addition, she initiated research regarding computer technology and working life. Her cross-disciplinary approach was accommodated by Stockholm University for over twenty years. In the contemporary years, she has been a visiting academic at Stanford University. Bradley has since attained the title of Professor Emeritus at Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. In the university, she has been allowed to create a contemporary field of study that merges social and behavioral sciences with technological studies.

Bradley’s experience has made understand technology as an element that affects both the life at work and life in the normal society. Her first books tackled how technology affects life at work because technology had not been much exploited for social life. However, this new book concentrates on general social informatics because technology has spread to every part of the society.

Part 2: Outline

This book has eight chapters discussing interrelated but unique concepts.

  1. Introduction

In this part, the author explains the essence of the book within the academic, social, and work environment. She characterizes the book as a continuation of a catalogue of work that she uses to address the interplay between technology, human psychology, and social behavior (Bradley, 2007).

  1. Theoretical perspective on the psychosocial and organizational life environment and ICT

This chapter discusses how technology could be employed in improving the work environment. The chapter highlights the employee as belonging at the individual, social, and organizational level. The employee, thus, is pressured to fulfill the expectations of various realms of conduct.

  1. Information and communication technology (ICT) – past, present and future

In this chapter, the author narrows down to the type of technology that she deems as changing human behavior. She is, especially, interested in computer technology and its growth. For instance, she mentions that in 1986, the internet had not become functional at the societal level (Bradley, 2007). Over time, technology has moved from large companies into people’s hands thereby not only influencing business, but also impacting human behavior.

  1. ICT and humans – ongoing changes in working life

In this chapter, the author highlights the essential case of ICT in the work environment. She explains that the work environment has traditionally affected the operation of the general society. Indeed, ICT has been significantly integrated in the work environment in order to enhance efficiency and create convenience for the customer. In the working life, the chapter highlights certain changes that ICT is creating in the working life. For instance, she highlights the rise of networking and knowledge transfer among persons (Bradley, 2007).

  1. Home of the future and ICT –integration of professional and private roles

In this chapter, the author discusses the direction of ICT technology. To begin with, she highlights that technology will constantly modify to suit human needs and behavior. Technology, as a tool of solution, will strive to conform to human behavior and needs. In addition, the author how human needs and technology coalesce. Besides, the chapter explains why technology might migrate to South East Asia.

  1. ICT and humans – ongoing changes in communities

Apart from changes in the working realm, technology is also penetrating into communities. The author notes how technology has travelled from the city and infiltrated into previously inaccessible villages. It creates a global community that communicates seamlessly.

  1. ICT and pychosocial communication

In this chapter, the authors narrow down to the essential subject of communication. She highlights how there are varied forms of communication that people currently employ. Apart from traditional means such as word-of-mouth, technology has advanced to include highly developed and internet-enabled communication such as teleconferencing.

  1. ICT and stress

This chapter entails a discussion on stress as caused by ICT. To begin with, there is increased pressure to harness the benefits out of technology. In addition, it discusses stress as arising out of different involvements with technology.

  1. From theory to actions: how to achieve the good ICT society – a tree of action

In this chapter, the author implies that technology has more benefits than disadvantages. In spite of the highlighted case of stress, technology can be organized at the individual, corporate, and the national level towards granting more benefits to the society (Bodley, 2012).

Part 3: Point of the Book

The varied and wide experience of Gurrina Bradley explains why she is highly likely to have been interested in writing such a book. Given her past writing, which touches on the relationship between technology and the human society, Bradley sees technology as a major factor that determines and will continue to influence how people behave. Her interest in psychology has made her speculate and research on how technology influences individuals’ thoughts and emotions. On the other hand, her interest in sociology has inspired her to investigate how technology influences and will continue to influence human relationships expressed in aspects such dating.

More essentially, Bradley seems interested in creating a new academic endeavor. Although several papers and books have been towards the issues that technology is creating in the human society in terms of individual and social behavior, Bradley is one of the few academics who have embarked on an objective and empirical research on broader effects of technology. She seems interested in accumulating a body of work that would be established as a new course in university. Her insight, however, has arisen from her earlier dabbling in sociology and psychology and later specialization in a technological field. Her previous books have had singular perspectives such as organizational design in the face of new technology. She has also conducted research on the interplay between technology and communication in real-life situation. The new book combines all these conversations into a continuum of discussions.

The author cites that the academic discipline regarding informatics is developing in most universities. Just as many other fields, a graduate is taught to understand how one’s specialization is related to ongoing in the general society. This happens as she highlights recent technological innovations as made towards the use of people rather than manufactured for the sake of technological growth (Pellow, 2014).

Part 4: Worldview

It is apparent that the author employs human exemptionalism paradigm (NEP). In this model, the author characterizes human beings as distinct from the rest of the animal population due to their inventiveness (Pellow, 2014). Regarding the convergence theory that espouses that different types of technology are becoming similar. In addition, the convergence process is creating smaller, modified, and cheaper gadgets that perform the same functions as the larger gadgets (Haftor, Mirijamdotter, & Bradley, 2010). More essentially, ICT is being embedded in most work and life operations.

The author is extremely optimistic about the power of technology to transform every part of human life, including the most delicate part one, social and family life. She argues that in the beginning, technology was cautiously used in large organizations. However, information technology is currently exploited by even small businesses in order to enhance efficiency and improve customer experience. Consequently, technology creates a network that helps every person involved in the process. Bradley does not highlight how technology spurs inequality, as people who are better at exploiting it derive more benefits than those who are relatively illiterate various types of ICT technology. In addition, Bradley believes that technology helps in the easy transfer of knowledge among workers and people. Such a belief does not pay attention to the idea that the same technology can be manipulated to ensure that only targeted people receive information while the rest of the people who otherwise need the same information are locked out of the system. In addition, the optimistic belief in technology does not highlight how social and intimate life is jeopardized by aspects such as the internet. For instance, people spend more time in the web thereby limiting their time for healthy one-on-one interaction.

The convergence model, therefore, espouses the NEP view that social and cultural elements are the driving factors of human affairs. Indeed, the author does not move to discuss the essential impact of the environment on social interactions. Bradley sees technology as the major driver of changes that will occur in the social, political, and economic elements. Human interaction is, thus, articulated as influenced by the interaction between human beings and relevant technology.

This is also manifested in the way in which the author characterizes stress. In the ecological models, human beings are seen as existing in competition for the environment (Merchant, 2012). With a rapidly depleting environment, individuals become subject to stress. However, the author shapes stress as arising out of new technological demands and the gap between knowhow and the rate of technological growth.

Besides, the author discusses ethics within the NEP framework. By conducting a historical analysis, she highlights the changes in social interactions and psychosocial communication that has been transpiring since the 1980’s. Such changes do not emanate from changing relationships with the environment, but arise out of technological development that necessitates people to change their behavior at workplaces as well as in normal life. For instance, social media has enabled intimate and convenient communication that was never witnessed in the telephone era. Such medium also allow for people to use technology towards fraudulent activities thereby igniting the question of ethics. In an ecological model, ethics would have concerned with how people modify technology not to pose adverse effects on the environment (Weston, 2006). Instead, Bradley characterizes technology as existing out of the environmental space.