Technology and Society

In his 1996 book The Rise of the Network Society, Manuel Castells, a sociology professor at the University of California Berkeley who has held positions around the world, observed the late 20th century was marked by drastic changes in patterns of commerce and government that challenged long-established social norms around the world. Because of these ICT-driven changes, new trends have been observed in a wide range of organizations; Castells noted, “Technological innovation, and organizational change, focusing on flexibility and adaptability [are] absolutely critical in ensuring the speed and efficiency of the restructuring” (1996, 19). Yochai Benkler, a professor at Yale Law School, observed that access to communication networks were associated with greater transparency in all aspects of culture and that transparency contributed to individuals having the power to participate in more democratic governance. Benkler observed “the change brought about by the networked information environment is deep. It is structural. It goes to the very foundations of how liberal markets and liberal democracies have coevolved for almost two centuries” (2006, 1). Castells‘ and Benkler‘s conclusions are shared by a collection of writers who study and comment upon the influences of ICT on modern society.

In locations where computers, laptops, the Internet, handhelds, and related devices have penetrated into the consumer market, ICT has become a transparent part of life making it difficult to perceive its strong sociocultural influences. From inside one of those cultures, we hardly recognize the extent to which ICT changes how businesses buy and sell, performers entertain, audiences are entertained, citizens engage in political discourse, workers work, governments govern, bullies bully, romances begin (and end), and friends and families stay in touch. Conspicuously absent from this list is how educators educate.


Benkler, Yochai. 2006. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Castells, Manuel. 1996. The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd..