Essay on Cultural Factor Influences the Direction and Character of Technological Change

In other time and place, why are they resisted or rejected? India opposed technological innovations and refused to accept and use many of the technological products during the early stages of the British rule.

On the other hand, America welcomed almost all kinds of technical inventions during the 18th and 19th centuries. Only the cultural factors can provide a satisfactory explanation for these phenomena.

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The complex combination of technology and social values produce conditions that en­courage further technological change. For example, the belief or the idea that human life must not be sacrificed for want of medical treatment, contributed to the advancement in medical technology.

Max Weber in his ” The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” has made a classical attempt to establish a correlation between the changes in the religious outlook, beliefs and practices of the people on the one hand, and their economic behaviour, on the other.

He has observed that capitalism could grow in the Western societies to very great extent and not in the Eastern countries like India and China. He has concluded that Protestantism with its practical ethics encouraged capitalism to grow in the West and hence industrial and economic advancement took place there. In the East, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, on the other hand, did not encourage capitalism.

Thus, cultural factors play a positive as well as negative role in bringing about technological change. Cultural factors such as habits, customs, traditions, conservatism, traditional values, etc., may resist the technological inventions.

On the other hand, factors such as breakdown in the unity of social values, the diversification of social institutions (that is, institutions such as family, religion, state, etc., becoming relatively independent) craving for the new thoughts, values, etc., may contrib­ute to technological inventions.

Technological changes do not take place on their own. They are engineered by men only. Technology is the creation of man. Men are always moved by ideas, thoughts, values, beliefs, mor­als, philosophies, etc. These are the elements of culture.

These sometimes decide or influence the direction in which technology undergoes change. Men are becoming more and more materialistic in their attitude. They are after pleasure. Hedonic or pleasure philosophy has become a practical ethic and is in currency especially in the West today. This change in the attitude and outlook is reflected in the technological field.

Thus, in order to lead a pleasurely and a leisurely life and to minimise the manual labour and maximise merriment, man has started inventing new techniques, machines, in­struments and devices.

Various electrical equipments such as electric heater, boiler, electric iron, refrigerator, grinder, tape-recorder, fan, etc., have come into being to ease the routine tasks of the people and to provide them great pleasure.