I often joke in my classes that the “Industrial Revolution” is always the correct answer to all sociological questions. While this is a bit of an exagerration, it is true that the “Big Three” sociologists–Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber–along with many other early theorists, were trying to come to terms with the impact industrialization and urbanization had on people’s everyday lives.

Many people continue to ask questions about the impact that technology has on our lives. One writer who is particularly critical of the negative impact technology has had on community is Wendall Berry. Berry is a poet, novelist, and essayist. In a new article appearing in the September/October issue of Orion Magazine Berry writes:

Once one’s farm and one’s thoughts have been sufficiently mechanized, industrial agriculture’s focus on production, as opposed to maintenance or stewardship, becomes merely logical. And here the trouble completes itself. The almost exclusive emphasis on production permits the way of working to be determined not by the nature and character of the farm in its ecosystem and in its human community, but rather by the national or the global economy and the available or affordable technology.

The tendency for most of us in dominant U.S. society is to passively accept new technologies without regard for their consequences. Listening to critics such as Berry might help us to engage in more critical analysis and make more informed choices.

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