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When considering the immensity of accessible knowledge today in our high-tech society it seems more than evident that social change is in equation. The vast scope of fields in which ICT’s (information, communication, technologies) have invaded the global market with it’s unfathomable possibilities just might start a revolution. Knowledge societies now have freely accessible information transmitted instantaneously serving as a support for all essential needs. This capacity to meet the overall needs of the world and the reperccusions of global knowledge on mankind may conceal unthinkable changes.
Education, environmental issues, government issues, religion, science ,wealth and risk management have become ressources through internet of intellectual sharing and education. Valuable information at the touch of the keyboard is not without the responsability that this implies.This massive information giving has caused considerable change in the personal development of each individual having access to a computer and internet, therefore allowing fulfilment in once unthinkable places, enabling the inclusion of disadvantaged people.
On the other hand this may become another reason that accentuates social exclusion in developing countries. The gap between internet users and non internet users may become unbridgeable at some point. Computer savvy and computer illiterate may plunge the needy into even a greater abyss.
What will the side effects be when highly educated masses meet their extreme opposite counterparts?
Imagine the freedom of expression in any given language due to training, an inquisitive eye for other cultures, other lands, other ways of being and expressions of life. The cultural shock would jolt our high-tech societies into facing the fact that with all this information there are still huge discepansies of social classes throughout the world. We frankly need to’ mind the gap’!
This social exclusion for the sake and risk of revolutionary technologies may also cause our downfall. The incredible benefits for those that have access as compared to those who don’t is reinforcing the idea of social power.
Companies and individuals have become direct advocates of risk management and wealth management. On a daily basis right from your home or office you can consult any of your personal investments 24 hours a day. People have become their own financial partners having consequently earned their financial freedom. This freedom has made considerable social changes .People are more and more aware of the myriad of finacial placement possibilites and their options. Without having to leave the ofice they are able to orchestrate their choices by internet which not only brings them to finacial freedom, but to more leisure time.People are planning their future in an industrious way.
What can we say for the risk society in social changes? We can probably say that the stakes are even higher than they were before. Social contrast, environmental pollution, nuclear and chemical weapons, transportation, the crime rate, drug abuse, war, civilian protection, military mangement; all of which through globalisation have created a state of international insecurity. Awareness on a daily basis of this state of unsafeness has
largely contributed to either ignoring the situation and living with your head in the sand, or doing something about it. The person playing the ostrich will still feel insecure. The person that employs his energy in doing something about it may also feel insecure although he has made the choice to make a small step towards change on another level. Neither one of the two cases illustrated is a comfortable situation to be in .
Generations of wearing blinders makes for more generations of wearing blinders which can only ignite the steaming anger of the disadvantaged. On the other hand there are those who give their support doing their best to nuture a feeling of solidarity towards the less fortunate.
Social changes are also produced by the risk society for several other outstanding reasons.
The fact that a high rate of divorce means children coming from mono-parental homes and the precariousness therein is a risk foundation factor of today’s society; Children are left to their own sort,while women are making up for lost time in executive positions on the work force. This new work pattern will affect the structure of the society in it’s roots.
Medicine has made astounding technological advancements in disease prevention and treatments.Which means we have a high increase in population of people over fifty.
Science and medicine alike have progressed in all areas through consequent research.
The outmost prepoderance today is in the domain of bioethics. How are we as citizens of the world going to respect, encourage, develop, the the safekeeping of humanity through scientific practices?
Therefore using those creations for the good of mankind excluding any attempt to manipulate, exploit, destroy,or govern others through these practices. We have come to the stage of our development when it might seem as if we were all reading a former science fiction scenario which has finally come true.
How have religious beliefs changed with knowledge?
Religion has always been subjective whereas science is prouvable knowledge. In the light of the fact that’ faith’ is’ faith ‘ religion has basically remained the same. Few or little changes have occured in the basic concepts. What has changed is the participation and questioning of how faith is transposed. Recently at a conference a woman in the audience made the remark that when the chips are down people turn to their faith and to their God. What awareness has changed are the blossoming number of charities in the world today. People are using their faith and expressing it through social services to the disadvantaged. If church attendance is ‘down’ the charitiy services are’ up’ putting faith into action. Advocates of human rights charities, NGO’s, and humanitarian services combined represent a great influence in counter balancing political issues. Interdenomonational efforts are being made for problem solving, empowerment, and conscience raising. Since the emphasis s not put on the doctrines but more on the strengths of uniting forces, yet another social pattern is changing in the face of new knowledge. In Europe this plurality is especially changing patterns when it comes to world peace. You may find at the same peace movement Muslims, Communists, Catholics all with the same amount of exploitable energy for world peace.
A wave of interest for self-help litterature and New Age spirituality are allowing people to commit themselves in a more individually expressed way. Some choose community service, others NGO’s which may have a more political priority towards human rights, politics, clubs, or groups of people with standards and values to uphold that do not necessarily have a religious doctrine connotation but with a sense of mankind. Globalisation of thoughts has brought about many changes. We need to take into consideration that readily available knowledge influences thought and produces changes in patterns. Whenever there is a change in patterns society is directly implicated as a result of those changes. Globalisation has lead to localization. People may suffer a loss of the individual being drowned by the mass in his identification process. He will therefore feel a need to imply himself on a lesser scale to connect with non virtual existences and to have real life contact. The tendancy will be to form small groups as opposed to immense circles. Business has already predomonated the patterns by imposing it’s multinational structures upon the world.
People will feel a need for real human contact on a smaller scale to be able to face the more universal scale they observe everyday on television. Taking good care of oneself has also become a new priority. A sort of self-awareness that has it’s repercissions on the choice of knowledge saught and it’s resulting change in patterns of thought. Change the thought patterns and society is highly affected as people with self- help in mind and individual emergence are evolving.
Innovative skills and knowledge are at our disposal for inner growth. Perhaps the awakening of the ‘self’ will allow individuals to meet global needs when their own needs are fulfilled.
Media has changed our vision through worlwide news reports. Terrorist attacks have been presented live on TV throughout the entire world. The risk society is even more exposed to insecurity by what is said than by what remains unsaid. Commercials have shaped the image of men and women and given children role models that impress upon them neurotic behaviour as being quite normal. Reality shows are allowing us to enter into somebody’s living room and experience their daily life in every aspect. This is bound to have an effect on our vision of others and our opinion of the world and it’s inhabitants. Our reasoning has been greatly influenced by the everyday aspect of media use through television, radio, magazines, newspapers. This constant focusing of visual and auditive input has also been a determining factor in social change.
In conclusion, countless examples of how knowledge is linked to social change have lead me to believe that without knowledge in the first place there would be little room for change in the first place. When the expression’ ignorance is bliss’ is used it might just be that with the acceptance of knowledge the notion of responsability is heavy with meaning. The inevitable social changes that will occur stemming from cognitive growth are perhaps not always what we would hope them to be. Citizens of the world need to assume their knowledge and the forthcoming responsibilities that it will engender.
Bauman Zygmunt (1992)
Intimations of Postmodernity, London, Rutledge
Beck, Ulrich (1992) Risk Society;
Towards a New Modernity, London: Sage (1992)
Convention Concerning the Protection of the World
Cultural and Natural Heritage
The Development of Common Risk ‘society’ a theoretical overview
Rethinking Science: knowledge and the Public in the Age of Uncertainty (2001)
Nowontny Helga, Scott Peter, Gibbons Michael (2001) Cambridge Polity Press
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