Industrialization’s Impact on Our Veiw of Life

In this chapter, Giddens talks about the institutional dimensions of modernity, which are the following: surveillance, military power, industrialism, and capitalism. He talks about their interrelations and relevance in modern society. Giddens somewhat comically comments on the common preconceptions people have about industrialism; “..imagery of coal and steam power and of large, heavy machinery clanking away in grubby workshops and factories.” (Giddens 56) Giddens makes a point to inform his readers that the term industrialism can actually apply to very high-tech settings. I liked the way that Giddens talked about surveillance. He tells us that “surveillance refers to the supervision of the activities of subject populations in the political sphere. ” (Giddens 58). He tells us that some examples of direct supervision include prisons, schools, and open workplaces. I do not feel that I can relate to many things in this book, seeing as a lot of it is about the economy and history (not my strong points), but this phrase seemed relatable because we know what it’s like to be in the public school systems, and especially as we got into high school, many of us began to really realize the surveillance of the school systems. Our country’s school systems are a form of social control that do in many ways confine and restrict us, (which lessened a lot when we got to college) , but at the same time are necessary in order to maintain control of the population.

Another point that Giddens made that I found to be quite insightful and interesting was the way he said that human beings live in a created environment. “Not just the built environment of urban areas but most other landscapes as well become subject to human coordination and control.” (Giddens 60) This statement got me thinking because it made me think about the fact that this world that we live in is so industrialized and controlled by human beings that we have, in fact, created our environment. All a human being truly, physically needs to survive is food, water, and shelter, but our society has become so industrialized and advanced that this simple list also now seems to include other things that we have decided are “necessities”, such as a car, a college degree, an air-conditioned home…; Our day-to-day American life has truly become a product of what our industrialized society perceives life to be. Although it is honestly at times hard to follow Giddens’ string of insights and theories, I do think that he does a good job of portraying the society that is right in front of us by putting ideas in a different light.

5 thoughts on “Industrialization’s Impact on Our Veiw of Life

  1. Mariah,

    Thanks for thinking of a great example–high school and surveillance. I wonder if you can expand on this: “especially as we got into high school, many of us began to really realize the surveillance of the school systems.” What would these be? Attendance records? Online supervision? Does high school in America contribute to globalization? Or is it simply an example of a modern bureaucracy with an alienating effect on those it manages?

    ~DM

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  2. I really liked your style of writing and appreciated the conciseness of your paragraphs. Many of us all seem to agree that the easiest part of the chapter to understand was the definition of industrialization, and how it relates to capitalism, surveillance, and globalization. Your comments on what it means to be a “created environment” is also very insightful. When you wrote, “our society has become so industrialized and advanced that this simple list also now seems to include other things that we have decided are “necessities”, such as a car, a college degree, an air-conditioned home…” I was curious to see if you were able to see the connections between your thoughts and Giddens argument. On page 62, Giddens writes that, “If capitalism was one of the great institutional elements promoting the acceleration and expansion of modern institutions, the other was the nation-state.” He goes to further explain that while the nation-state cannot inherently be defined, the ‘concentrated administrative power’ it created certainly changed the way societies worked and how they expended their social and economic resources, which could possibly be a contributing factor on a society individually of what becomes most important in life to survive. In the context of the example that you provided in your analysis, which would you say is more influential in what we value: the nation-state or industrialization?

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  3. I think you did a great job in really getting your point across and it seemed like you had a really strong voice in your writing. I’ll be honest, before reading this chapter, I was under the preconception that industrialism referred to machines and factories but as you pointed out, “…the term industrialism can actually apply to very high-tech settings. I really enjoyed your example of the surveillance that there is in high schools. It was a great example to apply to the concepts in Giddens. At one point you state, “Our country’s school systems are a form of social control that do in many ways confine and restrict us, (which lessened a lot when we got to college), but at the same time are necessary in order to maintain control of the population.” But why is there such harsh surveillance in high schools compared to in college? In college there’s no one breathing down your neck to do your work and telling you to go to class but everyone for the most part gets their work done. Who’s to say that if the surveillance in high school was like the surveillance in college that kids wouldn’t still do their work and attend class? I mean it’s only a difference of a year between high school and college. Just something to think about.

    -ML

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  4. I enjoyed reading the post ‘Industrialization’s Impact on Our View of Life’. I had to smile when I read your comment of ‘This statement got me thinking because it made me think about the fact that this world that we live in is so industrialized and controlled by human beings that we have, in fact, created our environment. ‘ Giddens could be alluding to this very concept when he writes ‘In circumstances of accelerating globalization, the nation-state has become “too small for the big problems of life, and too big for the small problems of life.” (Giddens 65) So let me ask you – Do you think you could be living in one of Giddens insights on the consequences of Modernity?
    Nice post.
    -Chris

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  5. Mariah,
    I absolutely love this part of your writing: “Giddens somewhat comically comments on the common preconceptions people have about industrialism; ‘…imagery of coal and steam power and of large, heavy machinery clanking away in grubby workshops and factories’ (Giddens 56)”. I found myself giggling because, in all seriousness, this is mostly the image that comes into my head when I think about industrialism. It reminded me that I should probably put my mindset into the modern era when it comes to a term, like industrialism, that evolves to fit the world we life in.

    You also brought up an interesting point from Giddens that I somewhat disagree with. He talks about how our world is man-made and that industrialization has shaped what we claim to be necessities. But what about those true necessities found in nature that aren’t man-made? When he wrote this book in 1990, the “green initiative” was nowhere near as powerful as it is today, so I took this part with a grain of salt when I read it in the book. It also made me think about my living situation for next year. While I am ecstatic to live in a brand-new townhome complex with all the “amenities,” reading this passage drove home the fact that though industrialization may have played a positive role on our man-constructed environments, it’s having a negative impact on those things not able to be re-constructed. Can the hardwood floors in my new house really be considered a “necessity” when you take into account the forest cut down to make them, and all the benefits that forest provides?

    EEM

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