My conference presentation is on a topic that’s really interested me throughout the course of this class. Technology is a common theme throughout the books we’ve read and discussed, as well as an integral and ever-growing part of our society today. In my research, I asked the question, what social impact does technology have, both in the context of dystopian novels and in real life? After an analysis of my independent reading, along with class readings and other articles and books on the matter, I came to the conclusion that technology is portrayed as escalating social stratification throughout young adult dystopian literature, reflecting the way in which society struggles with the boundaries created by a growing technological presence today.
Throughout the presentation, we’ll first explore examples of social orders implemented or heightened by technology, looking specifically at Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.
We’ll then continue to discuss a concept known as determinism, and how this view is often the driving force behind the dystopian nature of technological advancements. I’m particularly interested in the work of two scholars pertaining to this subject: Gorman Beauchamp, who argues that technology isn’t something that happens to fall in the hands of totalitarian rulers, but rather is intrinsically totalitarian in itself, and Langdon Winner, who believes that advancements in technology limit our choices and constrains the direction in which we grow as a society.
In his work, Winner also discusses how this results in the implementation of social boundaries through the metaphor of a city-suburb relationship. While in a city, we’re forced to bump shoulders and come in contact with people of all backgrounds and opinions, while suburbia is an escape from this diversity, where one can live in a bubble of their own views and not be bothered by those of others. Winner argues that cyberspace is comparable to suburbia, where one can access media that applies specifically to their niche in society. I’m excited to share more about my research with you all and to gain more perspective on this topic.