Technology and Society: The Influence of Machines in the United States

By S. Mckee Rosen ; Laura Rosen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXI
NEWS, KNOWLEDGE, AND SOCIAL CONTROL:
A CASE STUDY OF GOVERNMENT, EDUCATION,
AND THE RADIO

The General Welfare.In the preceding discussion it has been stated that changing technology calls for changing patterns of government. New synthesis is not always achieved in short order. Social scientists frequently call attention to the lag which persists. Nevertheless, there is a growing tendency on the part of government to shorten this lag, especially in matters which affect large sectors of the populace. The concept "vested with public interest" has taken on wider meaning from both the legal and the political viewpoints; provision for the general welfare is slowly being translated into practice in the light of twentieth-century imperatives.

From the establishment of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887 to the creation of the Federal Housing Authority in 1936, a fifty-year period elapsed in which numerous governmental agencies were created to cope with situations brought about by technologic advance. A detailed account of each of these situations and of resultant governmental regulation would have great value. In a work such as this, however, where political considerations occupy only part of the interest, a case history covering one such innovation, radio, will suffice.

It is not impossible that the twenty-five year period following the armistice of 1918 will some day be known as the "radio era." For of all the inventions which characterize modern living, the automobile and the airplane notwithstanding, radio is most peculiar to this period. Automobiles were well established by the end of the World War; the

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