The Relationship Between Culture and Technology


Culture and technology are two interconnected concepts. At first, the level of cultural development of the society determines the need for and provokes the technological progress that, in turn, has an impact on the evolution of culture and makes it more complex and intricate.

Technology and Cultural Complexity

There are many definitions of culture but, in general, it is “the ways of thinking, the ways of acting, and the material objects that together form a people’s way of life” (Macionis 54). That means that culture is how we think, what we do, and what we possess. There are two types of culture, material and nonmaterial. Material culture refers to everything that has a physical appearance created by the members of the society, i.e. everything we can see or touch. Nonmaterial culture includes ideas and concepts developed by the members of society, i.e. everything that does not have physical traits. It should be said that it may refer to many spheres of human life such as arts, science, politics, ethics, economics, etc., in other words, everything that distinguishes one society or group of people among the others.

Technology and the Globalization of Culture

Technology, on the other hand, is “knowledge that people use to make a way of life in their surroundings” (Macionis 63). That means that technology is using knowledge and skills for making lives easier, increasing the level of productivity, improving the quality of healthcare, etc. It should be said that the society reaching a particular level of cultural development faced the need for achieving scientific breakthroughs that, as the result, led to technological progress. Technology, in fact, is a part of material culture, but it has such a powerful influence on the life of society that can bring about changes in culture and thus add to the phenomenon of cultural complexity.

Technology and Art

Cultural complexity, in its nature, is about the number of forms of culture existing in a particular society (Vegvari par. 2), simple as that. Looking at the impact technology has on culture, one cannot deny that the higher the level of technological development, the more intricate is its culture. It should be said that the way in which technology adds to the complexity of culture is by creating its new elements. For example, with the invention of photographic apparatus emerged the art of photography. Later on, with designing video cameras it became possible to shoot movies introducing video as the new form of art. Not to speak of introducing computers into our everyday lives that produced different modes of digital art. The same can be said about music as we can view designing different music instruments as technology not to mention new music styles that have emerged because of the use of computers in creating music.

On the other hand, the outburst of the development of technologies and their expansion in every sphere of human life has created a possibility of the globalization of culture, i.e. creating one global culture equal for all people. It became real, first of all, because of the invention of cable TV, the Internet, and other newest technologies that simply erase the boundaries between the distinctive cultural features of different ethnicities. The globalization of culture is seen as the export of capitalism as the entertaining organizations create the image of the dream life everybody strives for (Ugbam et al. 64). There can be both positive and negative outcomes of cultural globalization. First of all, it defines the integration of separately taken culture in the global cultural system that can be viewed as a positive result. However, together with inheriting world cultural values, people lose their cultural identity, i.e. those traditions or features that distinguished them among others. This process may have different forms from the expansion of the global languages to the relationships in families and society. For example, women stop wearing traditional ethnic clothes of children no longer know what is subordination in the family setting (Nwegbu et. al 79). That said, the globalization of culture is aimed at elevating the differences between the ethnic groups and installing one unified system of cultural values.

Except for making culture more intricate and introducing the concept of global culture, technology has a powerful impact on art giving birth to new forms of it and leading to its evolution. Let us think, for example, about fine arts. First, there were paintings on the walls of the caves. Later, people invented pencils, found out how to extract pigments and make paint, and, finally, learned how to exploit the newest technologies in making art. The evolution is fantastic as fine arts started as drawings on the walls of the caves, later transformed into pictures on canvas, and, finally, digital art. The same can be said about music and new music styles or introducing movies as the form of art and 3D and more D’s as the newest technology in the moviemaking industry. Do not forget about virtual reality, 3D sculptures, laser shows, etc. (Gever par. 4,8; Rieland par. 5)

One simply cannot but mention the influence of technology on literature. We can start with the invention of the printing press and introducing publishing and proceed to design typewriters and computers. They not only made it easier to produce books but also made them available to the general public not to mention the convenience in writing them as it is easier to conduct research, organize thoughts, and edit the written parts using not only word processors but also cloud technologies (McMullan par. 17). Today there is a new trend in the world of literature. Like any other art, books have gone digital. Some people claim that it is the negative effect of technology on culture, in this case, publishing. With the digitalization of literature, there is no need to preserve the publishing industry, so many publishing houses went into bankruptcy and many people have lost their jobs. It is true not only in the case of fiction but also support literature. With the development of mobile telephones, for example, the need for printing telephone books has also diminished. Of course, printed books are still popular today but not to the extent they were in the past.


So, I believe that the relationship between culture and technology is very complicated and can be characterized as cyclical because technology is a part of culture has a powerful impact on its development. There are many thoughts on whether this influence is positive or negative, but I think that there are definitely more cons. Even though the evolution of technology made some industries close to extinction, it created many absolutely fantastic forms of art that make life more fascinating. As of the cultural globalization, it is the choice of every individual whether he or she wants to become a part of the unified system of cultural values and forget what is unique about his/her background.

Works Cited

Gever, Eyal. Technology and Art: Engineering the Future. 2012. Web.

Macionis, John J. Sociology. 14th ed. 2012. New York, New York: Pearson Education. Print.

McMullan, Thomas. How Technology Rewrites Literature. 2014. Web.

Nwegbu Mercy U., Cyril C. Eze, and Brendan E. Asogwa. “Globalization of Cultural Heritage: Issues, Impacts, and Inevitable Challenges for Nigeria.” Library Philosophy and Practice 12.1 (2011): 75-83. Print.

Rieland, Randy. 7 Ways Technology is Changing How Art is Made. 2014. Web.

Ugbam, Ogechukwu C., Benjamin Chukwu, and Ann Ogbo. “The Effects of Globalization on African Culture: The Nigerian Perspective.” IOSR Journal of Business and Management 16.4 (2014): 62-71. Print.

Vegvari, Carolin. What is Cultural Complexity? 2013. Web.

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