Daily Life in the United States, 1960-1990: Decades of Discord

By Myron A. Marty | Go to book overview

7 Technology in Daily Life

Technology plays an important part in almost every aspect of American life: business and industry, farming, urban development, health care, law, politics, banking, courtship, marital relationships, childrearing, schooling, religion, housekeeping and home maintenance, cooking and dietetics, shopping, social interactions, the spending of leisure time, and more. But the benefits of technology often have a price. For example, its relentless quest for "the new" necessarily makes our present possessions obsolete. Determination to keep up with "the better" or "the different" imposes challenges on both bank balances and human emotions. Technology encourages uniformity and predictability, thereby erasing the distinctiveness of communities and cultures.

Benefits and Costs

Technology's solutions to one generation's problems often create new ones for the next. Disposable diapers, for instance: Widespread usage did not begin until around 1970, when increasing numbers of mothers of infants and small children found employment outside the home. But, since their introduction, there have been concerns about their effects on the environment. By the early 1990s, soiled diapers amounted to 1.4 percent of the bulk in landfills, according to a study conducted in Arizona. Was that too much? And whatever the quantity, should disposable diapers be banned for other environmental reasons--for seepage of waste into groundwater, for example? Not necessarily. Debates over comparative environmental costs and benefits of using disposable as opposed to laundered diapers typically end in a draw. Washing diapers consumes energy and puts both human waste and detergents--another technolog-

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Daily Life in the United States, 1960-1990: Decades of Discord
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in the Greenwood Press "Daily Life through History" Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Notes xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Introduction xix
  • Part I - Modern Times Flourish and Fade: 1960-1966 1
  • 1 - Family Life 3
  • 2 - Changing Population Patterns 11
  • 3 - Private and Public Lives 25
  • 4 - Consumers in the Material World 35
  • 5 - The Other America 43
  • 6 - Mind and Spirit 51
  • 7 - Technology in Daily Life 57
  • 8 - Cultural Transformations 65
  • Part II - Troubled Times: 1967-1974 77
  • 9 - Changing Families 79
  • 10 - Civil Rights and Group Identities 87
  • 11 - Securities Shaken 99
  • 12 - Cultural Reflections/Cultural Influences 115
  • 13 - Material Aspects of Life 127
  • 14 - Environmental and Consumer Protection 141
  • 15 - Technology's Small Steps and Giant Leaps 149
  • 16 - Hard Knocks for Schools 159
  • 17 - Spiritual Matters 169
  • 18 - Not Ready for New Times 175
  • Part III - Times of Adjustment, 1975-1980 179
  • 19 - Family Changes Continue 181
  • 20 - The Peoples of America 187
  • 21 - Security Concerns 195
  • 22 - Television, Movies, and More 205
  • 23 - Cares of Daily Life 215
  • 24 - Arenas of Discord 225
  • 25 - Pulling Together 239
  • Part IV - Crossing the Postmodern Divide: 1981-1990 245
  • 26 - Family Variations 247
  • 27 - People at the Margins 255
  • 28 - Security Concerns Continue 265
  • 29 - Diversions 277
  • 30 - Concerns of Daily Life 291
  • 31 - Technology 303
  • 32 - More Discord 309
  • 33 - Prospects 331
  • Selected Bibliography 337
  • Index 353
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