The downside of Modernity - A sociological reflection-A A +A
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
A FAST-PACED lifestyle regulated strictly by the ticking clock, a highly rationalized system of rules and procedures to follow and a wide range of technological gadgets, devices and other material culture invented to supposedly simplify the complications of post-industrial living.
These are just some of the repercussions of living in an advanced or advancing society.
Needless to say, most people often yearn of living a Western lifestyle like those depicted in American or European films and sitcoms.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this, for who would want to live in poverty and social disorder? However, one must readily be amenable to the adverse consequences that such living calls for.
As society evolves into a more advanced state or form, one must understand that the traditional and old ways of doing and accomplishing things must be surrendered to adapt the “new culture.” In the process of doing so, new practices are developed that shape new traditions.
One example of a tradition that has gone passé as a result of societal advancement is the practice of families dining together on Christmas Eve or the “Noche Buena.” In one theory, it can be explained by the fact that as the economy advances, it gives birth to the mushrooming of a good number of leisure and recreational establishments like entertainment bars and resorts that have provided alternatives to the traditional practice of “Noche Buena.”
Instead of people, mostly the youth, young adults and professionals spend the Christmas Eve with their families as Filipino tradition applies, they prefer going out in bands or groups with friends to bars and disco clubs.
The same may hold true if one recalls the Holy Week early this year that instead of the youth observing the tradition of contemplative prayers, they prefer island hopping and vacation in search of an adventure. This can be well explained by the theory that modernism and industrialization weaken tradition.
Another feature of evolution that shapes an advancing society is the rise of crime rates. For the past few months, we have been seeing, hearing and reading in news that crime rates have swelled significantly in our country that even malls, schools, churches or places of worship are no longer immune from the strikes of criminal activities -- some of which are even lethal to claim one’s life. Worse, the age of people engaging in criminal activities are getting younger and younger. There had been recent cases of adolescents allegedly committing rape, a seventh-grade boy bullying and eventually killing a classmate in a mall and children less than 10 years of age participating in snatching and robbery.
Why crime rates increase in proportion to the state of societal advancement is a topic worth several sociological theories which I will no longer discuss in my column today. But to cite an example, New York is among the states in the US that have the highest crime rates. It is dubbed as the “city that never sleeps” due to the post-modern lifestyle it embraces and the economic stability it has assumed. New Yorkers work day and night to maintain the social structure they have attained. They live in a highly competitive society competing for everything that ranges from social rewards -- prestige and accomplishments, economic goods, money and wealth -- to natural resources -- land, food, water, shelter -- and therefore in order to survive, some would have to assume criminal or illegal roles like the predator-and-prey system.
The next feature of an advancing society is the rise of complex and specialized occupations and professions. Take the nursing profession in Canada for example that has expanded its scope and responsibility, creating the so-called nurse anesthetists or nurses specializing in the practice of anesthesia during a surgical operation.
Another example of this feature is the sub-specialization of traditional occupations such as teachers who do not function alone in the USA. They also have teacher-assistants.
Similarly, physicians do not practice alone in their respective offices. Rather, they have their licensed physician-assistants to aid them.
Another feature of a society in its advanced form is the complexity of its communication system. The typical landline telephone communication has just become one of the many seemingly inexhaustible ways of a non face-to-face communication ever made possible. To date, we have mobile phones and the famed cyberspace facilitating our needs to communicate. These kinds of technologies at hand call for the redefinition of taking responsibility with its utilization even if it takes coming up with laws that regulate the use and misuse of these technologies.
Lastly, and in my own opinion, economic stability is a feature of an advanced or modern society. For as long as our country’s economy is erratic and in a shaky shape, we will never progress to the kind of societal advancement we yearn for. However, consistent to this thought, the readiness of our nation to take on economically stable activities must be properly assessed no matter how benevolent the ends may be.
For example, the recent passage of House Bill 6144 or the “Domestic Workers’ Act” elevating the quality of working conditions of househelps or “kasambahay” and among its suggested provisions are the granting of SSS and PhilHealth insurance coverage for them. While this vision is highly commendable and gives the househelp more dignity, security and protection, did lawmakers try to look at the “other side” of the picture that is of parallel importance? Yes, the bill promises favorable working conditions for the househelps but does it or could it promise employment once it becomes a law? Because household heads may be reluctant to give in to the law’s demands.
In sociology, as I learned, the social division among the different social classes -- upper, middle and lower classes -- have functions. Equality is an impossible dream. If everyone is equal with the other, who would want to do or assume jobs that are “menial” or regimented like what household helpers do?
In first world nations like USA, Europe and even the Middle East, they import domestic helpers specifically to accomplish the “untouchable” tasks of cleaning, sweeping, errands, etc... This is possible for them because of the economic stability that their society enjoys.
So the question is: “Are we really ready for all of these?”
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 09, 2012.