At present, technology has an immense impact on a large variety of social problems and phenomena. For instance, new media technologies, including social networks, streaming platforms, forums, and others, have become a part of most people’s daily lives. As a consequence, social interaction has significantly changed over the last twenty years. There are many advantages and disadvantages of technological impact on social interaction, and it is essential to analyze them. Consequently, the three main sociological approaches – structural-functionalist, conflict, and symbolic interactionist perspectives – might provide unique insights into the topic (Mooney et al., 2016). Ultimately, the current essay examines the influence of technology on social interaction from the perspective of the three main sociological perspectives.
Evidently, social interaction is a highly broad topic, and it is impossible to examine all aspects of technological influence on it. Nevertheless, the structural-functionalist perspective might define the primary advantages and disadvantages of the phenomenon. In general, this theory assumes that all elements of society are interconnected and influence each other (Mooney et al., 2016). From this perspective, it is obvious that technological progress, which has significantly affected the daily lives of all people, influences most social phenomena. Consequently, the structural-functionalist approach suggests that all social elements might be functional or dysfunctional, depending on the outcomes (Mooney et al., 2016). From these considerations, the impact of technological progress is generally acknowledged as functional due to the convenience of social networks and platforms. Subjectively, it has become the social norm for people to have e-mail addresses, accounts in social networks, and other forms of an online presence.
Nevertheless, the vast impact of technological progress on social interaction is also frequently considered dysfunctional. For instance, social network addiction or exhaustion might negatively affect the psychological well-being of the individual. In turn, affected people might lose interest in real-life social interaction, which creates a social problem. Ultimately, depending on the perspective and worldview of the individual, the described social phenomenon might be considered either functional or dysfunctional.
Consequently, the conflict perspective assumes an opposite approach and discusses the disparities of social phenomenon in society. In other words, this approach examines which social groups would benefit most from the technological impact on social interaction (Mooney et al., 2016). Evidently, there is a significant gap in wealth and quality of life between various countries even today. As a result, there is also a disparity between how much access people have to said technologies, such as social networks and platforms. In a sense, this difference increases the gap between “haves” and “have-nots” (Mooney et al., 2016). Therefore, the said phenomenon might be considered as a negative factor that amplifies the inequality in society or a social problem.
Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
Lastly, the symbolic interactionist perspective concerns the identification of social problems. For instance, according to the theory, if a group of people collectively discusses the issue, it is a social problem (Mooney et al., 2016). In other words, if a local community of parents discusses the network addiction of their children and how it negatively affects their relationships, the said phenomenon becomes a social problem. Thus, though social networks make life more convenient for most people, it might become a social problem in certain cases according to the symbolic interactionist perspective.
The current essay has examined the impact of technological progress on social interaction from three major sociological perspectives. Even though the vast prominence of social networks and e-mail communication is beneficial for society, there are several drawbacks to the problem. For instance, due to the negative effect on real-life communication, the structural-functionalist approach might consider the phenomenon dysfunctional. As a result, technological progress has several negative consequences on social interaction and, thus, might be considered a social problem.
Mooney, L. A., Knox, D., & Schacht, C. (2016). Understanding social problems (10th edition). Cengage Learning.