Information Technology and Society

By Gladney, George Albert | Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Autumn 1997 | Go to article overview

Information Technology and Society


Gladney, George Albert, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


Heap, Nick; Ray Thomas; Geoff Einon; Robin Mason; and Hughie Mackay, eds. (1995). Information Technology and Society. London: Sage Publications Ltd. 436 pp. Paperback, $26.95. Hardback, $75.

This book, a reader featuring 27 essays, explores some of the social, political, and technological impacts of communication technology in the 30 years since the start of the Information Age. It examines how, and by whom, these technological developments are controlled, and asks if they are inevitable. It further examines whether information technology (IT) is driven by technology or by social factors, and it asks questions like: Who has access to the technology and who benefits?

The editors provide a comprehensive and internationally flavored overview of information technology and its implications in a wide range of settings, from school to home to workplace. Using comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives, the readings cover a broad array of important issues, including technological determinism, globalization, privacy, labor relations, and telework. The essays examine social values and government policy within the context of IT.

This volume is an outgrowth of the course by the same name at Open University. It is edited by five OU faculty members: Nick Heap, a senior lecturer in electronic systems engineering; Ray Thomas, a senior lecturer in sociology; Geoff Einon, a lecturer in biology; Robin Mason, a lecturer at the Centre for Information Technology Education; and Hughie Mackay, a staff tutor with the faculty of social sciences.

The book is divided into five parts, each with a concise introduction by one of the book's editors. In Part One, the authors insist on adoption of a critical attitude toward IT development, recognizing that social influences (ideologies and motivations)-not technical factors-determine design and implementation of IT. This section includes especially useful and perceptive essays on access and inequality and a tracing of the roots of the idea of an Information Society.

Part Two presents contemporary ideas in industrial sociology to examine IT developments and impacts in the workplace, including management, clerical, production, distribution, retail, and design. …

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