Chapter 1: Social Organization, Control and Information Technology
We currently live in what is sometimes called modern society and more recently global society. Most fundamentally this book is concerned with the ways in which this progressively more clearly defined form of human society organizes itself, since this organization is the basic condition within which we all live out our lives. More specifically, the book is concerned with the role of technology in social development as defined in politico-economic terms. And more specifically still, it is focused on the part played by a particular form of technology, information1 technology (IT), in the formation, alteration and destruction of certain key modern institutional forms, such as the nation state and the business corporation. IT includes all those technologies utilized to create, store, process or communicate information, but usually means the electronic forms. While IT is now a commonly discussed subject, there is uncommonly little agreement on what IT actually does. This book argues that most essentially, IT can be understood as the technology designed to facilitate control of social activity in the broadest sense. This is to say, IT is the technical means by which the processes through which society gains desired goods and services and maintains security are carried out with some degree of efficiency. The prime concern of this book, then, is social control, and the role IT plays in creating and maintaining specific conditions of control. In other words, the book is focused on the question of how societies, and more specifically the institutions that primarily determine the...
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