Examining the digital world through the use of sociological theory

 

Competency

This competency will allow you to demonstrate your understanding of prominent sociological theories and how they impact the digital world.

Instructions

You are working for a local department store in the Operations Department. You notice that their business practices and use of technology are not up to date. The Human Resources Department does not have adequate computer access and often requires employees to complete some business at home. They also require prospective employees to apply from home. You recognize that not all people have personal computers, and some might be accessing business and personal records from a public computer. There are two prominent sociological theories that can be used to easily examine computer usage for individuals and organizations. Those theories are Conflict Theory and Symbolic Interaction Theory. 

At a staff meeting, you and your team are engaged in a discussion about the use of technology on both an individual and organizational level. You cite the digital divide as a major concern. Your store is considering an upgrade in some or all of their technological resources.

Recognizing that you are technologically savvy, your supervisor asks you to generate a visual comparison that considers the use of public computers versus a personal computer. You will rank concepts such as ease of use, time, and comfort in completing tasks, security factors, email management, and safety in conducting business that is typically completed on a computer that may lead someone to experience the digital divide (a difference between groups of people and their use of digital technology). You will also need to consider the sociological theories named above and explain how from a sociological perspective, it would benefit or hinder the store you work in to upgrade their technology. 

Your comparison should consider various factors identified below and will illustrate the benefits and some potential limitations of utilizing technology. Your presentation will be presented to your supervisor and other members of the Operations Department in order to determine which, if any, components of the store’s current technological operations will be updated. The visual comparison can be in any engaging format that you select.

For this comparison chart, you are to reflect upon and address the following sets of questions/information.

  • Define conflict theory.
  • Define symbolic interaction theory.
  • Discuss how each of these theories would explain the use of technology and the development of the digital world we now live.
  • Consider multiple ways that society has changed in the past several decades and what contributed to that change.
  • Provide examples of technological growth and change over the past several decades. 
  • Make direct correlations between the technologies that exist and the changes that have occurred at the organizational and societal levels in the past several decades.
  • Define digital divide.
  • Consider factors that create the digital divide, such as access to technology, socioeconomic status, age, personal interest, location of residence, etc.
  • Based upon factors that cause the digital divide, suggest ways that this divide can be combated.
  • How does the digital divide apply to the store that you work in for this scenario?
  • Which theoretical perspective can best be applied to your store in the above scenario to help explain and counter the impacts of the digital divide?
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