Thesis on ICT and Cultural Disembodying Among Youths in Dhaka City

This study mainly focuses on the nature of cultural disembedding processes among youths due to the emergence of ICTs in Dhaka city. The principal objective is to understand the sociocultural change with the ascendancy of ICTs. This study deals adroitly with the overarching sociotechnological issues like the penetration and prevalence of ICTs in Bangladesh. The mainstays of the research are to unveil the dominant normative cultural patterns associated with the integration of ICTs among university going young generation. Drawing chiefly on Giddens’s theory of disembedding, this study enunciates the incorporation and assimilation of ICTs and pinpoints to the subsequent cultural disembeddings triggered extensively by the globalization of ICTs. Elucidating upon the gradually increasing trends of ubiquitous uses of computers, mobile phones, internet for documentation, information and entertainment and innumerable other purpose, this study attempts to understand the modes of disembedding with the advents of superior expert systems by displacing the previous ones which essentially echoe a distinctive

dynamics of social change among youths. Findings of this study illustrate that computerization of society, digital communication, cyber social networking, changes in intimate relationships, Bollywoodization and Westernization have been materialized due to the massive inception of ICTs. The proliferation of ICTs, as this study finds, bespeaks of a transformational phase where socioeconomic and personal spheres are, to a great extent, characterized by internet—specifically some extremely influential and instrumental websites like google, facebook, youtube, yahoo, wikipedia which were previously unknown and now come of indescribable use for everyone. ICTs have not changed the notions of technological expertise, but also disembedded the traditional structures of social relations—for instance the obsolescence of fixed phone and typewriter. Thus, this research focuses pivotally on the newly indoctrinated normative patterns among the youths of Dhaka city due to the huge institutionalization of ICTs.

Social changes could be characterized by the technological and economic processes of transformation. From the last phase of 20th century, a technological revolution, centering around information and communication technologies began to reshape the social institutions at accelerated pace (Castells, 2000: 22). There follows a fundamental split between abstract, universal instrumentalism, and historically rooted particularistic identities. Our societies are increasingly structured around a bipolar opposition between the Net and the self (Castells, 2000: 24). Globalization of innovative technology (Giddens, 2002; Castells: 2000, 2007; Archibugi and Iammarino, 2002) spurred the digital convergence revolution (Descy, 2004, 2007, 2008) that diffused across the nooks and corners of the globe and lent the lanes of a new social horizon. 

Giddens (1990), with his sociological chiaroscuro attempts to pinpoint the issues of disembedding and delves deep into the mechanisms and metabolisms of disembedding. He sketches the processes, preconditions and outcomes of disembedding and places some of the important notions involving the complex whole of the total process. Globalization (and glocalization) of information and communication technology mostly by TNCs along with the unrestrained mobility of capital in the forms of diverse fluidity figure momentously in his treatise. Giddens (2006: 65) delineates couple of dimensions that need to be documented first of all with a view to understanding his theoretical underpinnings. With the change of time, technology graduates and matures and turns out to be an instrumental hinge on the normativities of postmodern (or late modern) society. 

For Giddens (1990: 164), who seems kind of reluctant to use the term postmodernism rather uses post-modern, proposes a schematic sketch of the post-modern where he (1990: 71) stresses on from multilayered democratic participation, post-scarcity system, demilitarization and humanization of technology as the contours of post-modern order. Giddens (1990) moves on to encircle the concepts of late, high, radicalized modernity. Giddens’s advocacy for the ideas of disembedding puts into another theoretical dimension understandably to manifest its nonetheless magnitudes as a theoretical framework. With the pinnacles of individualism again, intriguing enough, rises the thresholds of insecurity inviting the posers of security and surveillance; Giddens (1990: 139) rides the juggernaut of modernity and figures out time-space distanciation, reflexivity, trust in the expert systems, risk and ontological security, problems of double hermeneutics as the necessary outcomes of modernity. Thus, disembedding involves the pulling out of social relations of human interactions from the local configurations and a further reorientation of them across diverse horizons of time-space. Thus, Giddens (1990) holds the core issues of the effect of modernity and locates disembedding in a much focused lineament. Unusually discernible, needless to mention, however, Bangladesh at the wake of 21st century still battling with myriads of problems like poverty, rural concentration, complex architectures of economy-class-structure-stratification, have worn her globalized attire mostly by cutting edge technologies and other paraphernalia. Here, we tend to shed light on the diffusion of ICT and the process of cultural disembedding. 

A momentous spectrum of relevant rationales hail a new phase of social transformation as that sweepingly espouses a new mode of change in institutional norms along with it recognizes localism, pluralism, ardent relativism; championing diversity of micronarratives rejecting grand ideologies, organized beliefs and historicities; advocates extreme subjectivity, articulates sense of meaninglessness and maintaining local geographies. Bangladesh, though not structurally a capitalist one, but the consumerist free market reification and commodification are irresistibly being invoked in. Gradually, universalization of consumer technologies and electronification of capital, finance, commerce, business to private spheres like intimate relationships, social networking and thus entering a new form of socialization as gmail, google, amazon, paypal, twitter, e-bay, wikipedia to name a few—accompany us and have become an indispensable part of our day-to-day and person-to-person communication on par with the Western world. 

The youths of Dhaka city have embraced a new self reshaped chiefly by the avant-garde technologies, though an infrastructural reconfiguration might well be questioned in terms of perfection, pace, speed, technical expertise, operational fluency, indigenous ingenuity, efficacies, precision and concise malleability. Globalization of electronic technologies and restructuring of the global economies undeniably sets forth a reconceptualization of the kaleidoscopes of a new figurational articulation of social dynamics, economic trends and tendencies in Bangladesh. With the advent of information age, the plethora of computer accessories paved the strenuous ways for a new mode of production (means of productions and production relations). Disembedding may be categorized by different types, but here we focus on a particular kind viz. the inroads of ultramodern technologies i.e. cybernetics, telematics and informatics. The emergence of more or better expert systems accelerated the extinction of obsolete technologies. We will thus examine the cultural disembedding in terms of adaptation of the advanced technologies and the displacement of traditional norms. When we see a young student of Dhaka city is using the Wi-Max internet of Qubee and after googling the Commencement Speech of Steve Jobs at Stanford starts downloading that video from youtube at a speed of 2 Mbps (The daily Star, 2011), that makes considerable sense about the remarkable penetration of an ICT revolution in Bangladesh. For any kind of necessary information, the netaholic youths first google it and facebook has evolved as the most spontaneous medium of social networking. E-mail has, needless to speak, however, had a tremendous effect on social change and been a unanimously accepted means of communication.

These technological transformations and the normative changes hint a new paradigm for Bangladesh. Besides these, the ubiquity of mobile phones has cast a colossal influence on the young generation and has become an inseparable part of day-to-day life which was never seen before. The geography of science and technology has a major impact on the sites and networks of global economy. Scientific research in our time is either global or ceases to be scientific (Castells, 2000: 125). Foray (1999: 24) points that global technological development needs the connection between science, technology, and the global business as well as national and international policies. To understand how and why technology diffuses in the global economy, it is important to consider the character of new, information technology based structures; they have extraordinary potential for diffusion beyond their source, provided that they find the technological infrastructure, organizational environment, and human resources (Castells, 2000: 127). 

In effect, the logic behind a sociological research is epitomized with its rationales. Sociology attempts to incorporate the technological spectra and landscapes meticulously to fathom its social gestation. Empiricism and analytics help translate the social construction of technology which appears to be a cardinal issue that needs to be elicited. Scarcely did we find ever any academic research upon this endeavoring on the social transformations of Bangladesh. The dimensions of ICT from every aspect and perspective must be visualized, and how does it spell impact on a developing nation like Bangladesh, how does it create new normative patterns needs to be understood sociologically. The socio-psychological implications, for instance, of facebook, google, youtube, yahoo, wikipedia and other websites, which created perhaps the greatest aura of influence and interaction in the history of modern technology—should be precisely accounted for a sharper understanding of their diffusion. Therefore, delineating the dynamics of Bangladesh society in the internet age—for the facebook generation is earnestly important, and this type of research involves a transitional extraction which might help in sketching the sociocultural, economic conditions with the technological adaptation. We need to, along with other parameters, however, understand the technological influence on the society. This study, in all possible ways concentrates on some of the specific contours of globalization of technological innovations (ICT) and endeavors to crystallize the newly embedded normative practices among the youths in Dhaka city.