What Is the Relationship Between Social Change and Changes in Space and Time?

What is the relationship between social change and changes in space and time? Illustrate with examples drawn from at least two of : changes in cities, changes in media, changes in intimacy. In looking at the relationship between social change and changes in space and time. We first require understanding of what social change is. Sociologists from every school of thought agree that social change is inevitable within our society. Social change is a highly diverse debate that has been analysed by theorist’s looking at the effects of social change on society.

Anything that is socially constructed can be altered. Little changes are triggered by larger changes taking place. Urban life changed and progressed toward an industrial society. Space and time has been reordered. The working day was determined by the seasons, and by the amount of daylight there was. This however has changed, and the working day is now structured around clock time. Space within the home has changed. With family units not as large as previously had been and the availability of better housing conditions, families do not spend the same time together.

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In looking at some of the theories that have been documented with regards to changes in media and changes in intimacy we begin to acquire an understanding of how sociological change has had an impact. The new media phenomenon holds a lot of potential for benefiting society. “Belonging to a digital culture binds people more strongly than the territorial adhesives of geography” (Mackay pg. 123) Many who are not able to use conventional methods of communication are given an outlet whereby they can.

Many are unable to visit places of interest to them and ICTs host many features allowing people to view and learn about places they would in most cases not be able to physically visit. “Internet communities – which are seen as binding people together in some sort of common culture in which imagined realities are shared” ( Hugh Mackay pg. 159) The new ICTs can also be contested in that with having no physical contact can leave individuals feeling alone, isolated from others and could produce a desire for the physical presence of others. Together, today’s networks constitute a new form of society” (Hugh Mackay pg. 141). Internet does not alienate between creed, colour, ethnicity or disability and therefore it can be suggested that this multicultural society brings with it a form of social structure and community without any prejudice. There is no stigma attached to it. Castelles views the new technological devices of our society as the beginning of a revolutionary change. Globally the new forms of media have transformed the ways of communication and the availability of information. Timeless time and the space of flows” (Hugh Mackay pg. 141). By this he means that with new technology being made available there is no longer a need or reason for waiting time to exist. Everything is instantaneous, and can be acquired at the touch of a button. Snail mail has been replaced with e-mail. We are able to access many things at any time of the day or night. Also there is no physical space taken up. Cyberspace allows the exchange of all forms of information without the requirement of physical documentation. If the nineteenth century was the age of the telegraph and telephony, and the twenty – first century becomes that of biotechnology, it is not necessarily the case that the intervening era of late modernity is to be conceived as the ‘information age’” (Golding pg. 129) Golding does not agree with Castells view that there is a revolutionary change taking place due to the development of ICTs. His view is that social changes throughout the years are due to evolutionary developments. “Brief history of the electric telegraph shows that significant reordering of time and space began long before the internet” (Mackay pg. 142).

He suggests that communication with others via e-mail hosts the same enthusiastic doctrine as is held by those wishing to write in the conventional way. Also the enthusiasm held by the introduction of ICTs was just the same as had been with the invention of the semaphore telegraphs. “In the future, it is claimed, ICTs will unlock the door to a society of unlimited resources. The plentitude of the information economy will end deprivation and need. ” (Golding, pg. 130). Golding does not foresee this happening as the use for ICTs will always require manufactured upgrades and money being spent to ensure the running of them.

The only form of media that he views as having ‘consistently high penetration’ (Golding pg. 130) is television. The cultural imperialism thesis looks at the media expanding throughout the world. It is generally assuming that the exportation of different cultures from West to East is not beneficial within society. Schiller denotes that this approach is pessimistic. “Cultural exports not only restrict other countries’ development of their own production industries, but also, quite insidiously, manipulate and shape cultural values. (Mackay pg. 145). He does not believe that any good can come from knowledge being shared in this way. There is in his view, an adverse effect on different cultures generated by this method. Negroponti is optimistic about the introduction of the media sources. Internet allows us to have access to anything at any time of night or day. Everything in his view will flourish. He sees those entering the sector will grow and get better with time as the creation of new technologies advances through time.

It has become easier to communicate with each other regardless of location. There has been an increase in dating sites which can be accessed at any time and by anyone. There has been a transformation from traditional conventional ideologies about what is termed intimacy. Due to media there are many more public arenas for the discussion of both personal and public relationships. “Cyberspace offers the possibility of the increased development of personal relationships in an apparent disembodied space” (Woodward pg. 191).

There are fewer secrets held within the boundaries of relationships. This generates a freedom of self in a way whereby people can decide their identity. It can be suggested that this manner of communication allows those within society to talk openly about their lives as the information given is received by a faceless audience. This however does not always prove to be a beneficial factor as there is a threat of undesirable people choosing to become part of a society they would not ordinarily live within the realms of.

There is no threat as to ones true identity, no questions require truthful answers. Intimate relationships were at one time kept secret from the public domain what went on behind closed doors stayed there. “Selling – point is the minutiae of the daily lives and personal relationships of the rich and famous”( Woodward pg. 186). Magazines make the most profit when they are selling stories about celebrities and the scandals associated with them . Giddens “transformation of intimacy” (Woodward pg. 201) shows that there has been a change socially within the realms of intimacy.

He looks upon marriages as only being beneficial to the participating partners for as long as they gain fulfilment from it. He sees an increase in equality within marriages. “Relationships between women and men which aspire to the pure relationship are more equal, with men as well as women being concerned with the emotional quality of the relationship and being prepared to make investment in this form of intimacy” (Woodward pg. 201)Another factor suggested by Giddens is what he denotes as “Plastic sexuality” Women can decide if they want to reproduce and by what method they want to reproduce by.

They are free to enter into sexual relationships without the threat of becoming pregnant. “This search for personal satisfaction through intimate relationships leads to greater reflexivity. ” (Woodward pg 202. ) Giddens does not however, document accounts of those within ethnic minorities, or make reference to relationships whereby intimacy is achieved without closeness for example with the use of prostitution, thus not holding true to his assumptions on pure relationships.

Intimacy can be between friends, it does not always involve partners having a sexual relationship. Lynn Jamieson believes that inequalities still remain within society. As she states “There are significant disjuncture between public and private stories about personal relations, especially in the context of the more optimistic variants of idealized discourses of transforming intimacies. (Woodward pg 203. ) Unlike Giddens she does not see equality within partnerships. Material circumstances account for much of the unhappiness that exists.

Divorce rates are still high and in the majority of cases are instigated by the women. Another factor that challenges Giddens theory is that she suggests domestic violence is still concurrent and therefore shows the depths to which inequalities lie. In conclusion, we can see that social change has altered the organization of society. “Changes in the boundaries between public and private space. These boundaries are not fixed in time and space but are continually being redrawn and transgressed” (Woodward pg. 186).

People adapt to changes and accustom themselves to their presence. From looking at the changes within space and time we can see how there has been a move from rural to industrialised society to the developing technology. We as a nation are aware of what is happening globally and it is easy to contact and communicate with others worldwide. We can acquire information about almost anything that interests us. There are no longer boundaries or space that can stop interaction with others. Time is no longer a barrier.

Although there lies many debates and questions regarding social change the only thing that can be agreed upon is that there will always be changes within our society. Reference: Hugh Mackay cited in “Social Change” edited by Tim Jordan and Steve Pile, Open University Press, Milton Keynes 2002 Kath Woodward cited in “Social Change” edited by Tim Jordan and Steve Pile, Open University Press, Milton Keynes 2002 Lynn Jamieson, @From “the family” to sex and intimacy (1998) cited in “Social Change” edited by Tim Jordan and Steve Pile, Open University Press, Milton Keynes 2002 Word Count: 1550 approx

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