Historically, new technologies have caused unprecedented social changes. Some technologies have even gone to the extent of changing the conventional social fabric. New technologies introduce varying demands that require a new set of skills different from those used in a previous technology (Andersen & Taylor, 2010). As a result, technological changes have a strong impact on the social structures. As illustrated by William Ogburn’s theory, new technologies bring about social changes, and historically, there have been four social revolutions that have occurred as a result of new technologies.
The first social revolution came about after the discovery of hunting and farming tools. Hunting and gathering facilitated the development of horticultural and pastoral societies. This allowed mankind to domesticate plants and animals. Discovery of the plough prompted the second social revolution. It led to the establishment of agricultural societies that could fend for themselves. The invention of the steam engine led to the third social revolution. It allowed for the unprecedented establishment of industries. The fourth social revolution came after the invention of a microchip. This has facilitated accelerated processing and exchange data. In the coming years, the next social revolution maybe pushed by biotechnology.
William Ogburn came up with a theory that explains the social changes brought upon by technology. According to Ogburn, there are three processes, which prompt social change as a result of new technology. This include: invention, discovery and diffusion. Invention is the combination of existing elements to form new ones (Henslin, 2010). A good example of an invention that has changed the society is the computer. People can now work from home and download tons music from the computer (Henslin, 2010).
On the other hand, discovery is the realization of something that exists. It is a new way of seeing some aspect of the world. An excellent example is the discovery of the North America by Christopher Columbus, which has led to a shift in the global power. Diffusion, the last process in Ogburn’s theory, is the spread of an invention or discovery (Henslin, 2010). For example, the spread of money across the globe has led to global trade.
The fact that new technology has the capacity to transform the society cannot be gainsaid. William Ogburn laid down the framework through which new technology changes the society (Ferrante, 2010). However, the technology has to change first. Human beings then play catch up with the technology as people adapt their ways to meet their needs (Henslin, 2010). In order for this to take place, invention, discovery or diffusion of the new technology has to take place.
Andersen, M. L., & Taylor, H. F. (2010). Sociology: The essentials . Stamford: Cengage Learning.
Ferrante, J. (2010). Sociology: A Global Perspective. Stamford: Cengage Learning.
Henslin, J. M. (2010). Essentials of sociology: A down to earth approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.