3 Different Sociological Questions
The introduction of the Sociology of Technological Innovation to emerge in the discipline in response to globalization and the rise of information systems technologies as a core sector within the American economy since the 1970s, has led to new forms of cultural and ideological power. Review of the telecommunications company, AT&T in advertising from the early 1990’s show us a world of proto--smartphone, pre-internet and futurist ideas just prior to the present. The foregoing three (3) questions look at the promise of magical technologies and the revolutionary developments not too far off in the ads; predictions to have almost immediate effect on society.
- Theoretical Perspectives
Functionalist theorists within the school of sociology recognized for establishing a framework of utilitarian or responses to technological innovation are well suited to the type of economic demand model that suggests that a future in consumer products and services to meet the growing needs of the population is inevitable, and that it will promote future similar innovations to meet new demands in response to feedback.
Part of the Modernist tendency to seek ‘whole’ systems in the world, Functionalism proposes that social institutions work in unison toward change. Vested in ‘social facts’ Functionalism as understood by early 20th century thinkers such as French Sociologist Emilé Durkheim applied the theory to analyses of Positivist structures found in society such as the Civil Legal tradition.
Positivist rules enforced in the regulation of product research and development persist to the present. Functionalism had later impact in the work of Talcott Parsons, and has served as one of the main concepts about how social change happens in Sociology in the 21st century. Research and development activity in the current marketplace fits the Functionalist perspective, in that standards and performance models used to organize product strategies are reactionary to consumer demand and life-cycle where there is a threat of substitution by competitors that may cause obsolescence.
- Material and Non-Material Culture
Distinctions between material and non-material culture in AT&T’s ads are difficult to disseminate without the theoretical perspective of conflict theory. The tensions between the two are found in theories posing Sociology as ‘Science.’ The company proposes that its technology will bridge the gap in communications between people, across distances it is also promoted as an ideological problem-solver.
It is at the nexus of consumer relations rather than objects or structural processes found in the market that reconciles the exchange between material and non-material culture. The concept of convergence is found in the work of Neo-Marxists whom looked to historical materialism for recuperation of nonmaterial cultural forms. Sociologists are often dependent upon material properties and experiences to gauge and even build theoretical legitimacy into their studies toward interpretation of the ‘real.’
If globalization has caused what David Harvey has called time-space compression in capital and labor, it is precisely the innovation of telecommunications technologies that makes those transactions and communications possible. Ideological tenets forged through the dialectic of mass advertising ensure that norms, values and beliefs are engaged in the advancement of new ideas and environmental change in the product and services markets.
In the most serious instances, AT&T is the diplomat to all political transformation. The magic of the company’s products and services is critical to the dynamic of hegemony as Gramsci might have conceived it. Technology is deployed to negotiate politics, and this is done at the speed of internet communications.
Depicted as a revolutionary vehicle of historical materialism, AT&T’s brand identity has been exceptional in creating a resolute statement about social practice and economic exchange. Indeed, AT&T is on its way to dictating how the voice of democracy is heard across the globe.
Since first introduction to the market, digital technologies have offered the potential of virtual conferencing. The virtual meeting has transformed the manner in which socialization takes place is important to the discussion about how relationships are shaped in correspondence with technology. AT&T offers that its customers are central to the adaptation of new products and services, and that the company is on the cutting-edge of change; implementing new ideas fostered through research and knowledge sharing.
Generational influence by those born after the 1970s has changed how customer and marketing equity is assumed as an ‘asset’ by companies looking to do business in a world driven by the excesses of a mass mediated, information economy. When approached from the perspective of Symbolic Interactionism, socialization is well illustrated in AT&T’s history of consumer reception to product innovation in performance measures, as well as in expiation of its products and services in popular film culture. From this perspective, consumer consciousness is the catalyst to change, and dialectic to advertising semiotics.
AT&T Advertising, nd. < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MnQ8EkwXJ0>