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Cultural Evolution Vs. Technological Innovation Essay

1800 words - 7 pages

Cultural Evolution vs. Technological Innovation

Historically, in the relationship between human culture and technology, cultural evolution has lagged behind the pace of technological innovation. Technology is the human solution to fulfilling human needs. As these needs change, new technologies will supplement the old ones; inevitably changing the culture which created it, resulting in a co-evolution of technology and culture; and impacting the future of their culture. The disparate rate of cultural vs. technological evolution has consequences which cloud the prospect of the future of the human race unless we change the historical blueprint and try to thwart our disposition towards ignoring the responsibility we have today for the world we will live in tomorrow.

Cultural evolution is the nature of human interaction, their relationship with the environment and the immediate and long term trajectory of these interactions as influenced by inherited knowledge, lifestyle and customs is how a culture adapts itself to the progress within and around it. Morgan "saw the history of human cultures as a progression from savagery, through barbarism to civilization" (Chant 54). This progression was inevitably caused by technology.

Technological innovation is increasing human mastery over resources and sources of energy. Technology has developed because of humans' "fear of death that our consciousness keeps lurking in the background". Technology historically has given solutions to the problems of survival by creating more efficient ways to get food and energy. However, after humans establish themselves at the top of the food chain, although the threshold between survival and comfort is unclear; human focus shifts from brute survival and to fulfilling luxurious wants. As a result of this drastic change in human culture, the focus of technology becomes satisfying these new secondary needs.

However, the creation of technologies which transcend the rudimentary is not possible without social stratification. Social stratification is only possible after humans are not in immediate danger of extinction Social stratification occurs when resources are limited, and as a result of as a result of agricultural surplus/taxes (Erlich 265). The smaller the number of people in a culture devoted to food production, the more people have the free time and in which to develop it. Technological advances in turn encourage a classed society; "it is not by chance that today the global maps f illiteracy and poverty so nearly coincide"(Erlich 268). So the more technologically advanced a society is, the more stratified it is, but technology has other consequences also.

The domino effect of technology can be divided into two different categories, macroevolution and microevolution. Erlich defines cultural macroevolution as, "the shaping of cultural trajectories by environmental factors"( 260); and microevolution as, "change driven by the internal dynamics of societies...

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