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Technology’s Impact on Events of the 21st Century Research Paper


Abstract

The research project focused on determining the impact of technology on events in the 21st century. The study investigated how technology has affected social and economic events in the United Arab Emirates, the MENA region, and the entire global society. Both primary and secondary data were used to help achieve the goal of this project. Primary data was collected from a sample of respondents, while secondary data was obtained from books and articles. Primary data were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The findings show that technology had a massive impact on various social and economic events of the 21st century.

Introduction

Background

Technology has transformed the modern world into a global village where geographical barriers limit communication, and interactions have been completely eliminated (Brinca, Holter, Krusell, & Malafry, 2014). The twenty-first century has seen some major changes in the world’s economic and social space. Technology has led the way in creating important changes, some of which no one had ever imagined. In the economic sphere, some events have happened in the twenty-first century that has changed the world order. Once a small Arab center that was barely known beyond the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Dubai city rose to become one of the world’s top tourists’ destinations and a major global business hub. It is currently home to the world’s tallest building and largest human-made island.

China has also emerged as one of the world’s top economies within this century, leading in the manufacturing of various products. Countries like Israel and the United Arab Emirates have come up with unique ways of harvesting water for agriculture, making them food secure despite the harsh climatic conditions in the region (Horan, 2012). These changes have been made possible by the emergence of new technologies. Technology has also played significant roles in other major events in the twenty-first century. In this paper, the researcher seeks to discuss the impact of technology on social and economic events in the twenty-first century. The research will rely on both primary and secondary data to arrive at findings and make relevant fact-based recommendations.

Theoretical Background

It is important to look at some of the theoretical concepts relating to the twenty-first century’s emerging technologies and how they influence socio-economic changes all over the world. One of the most popular theories in this field is the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) (Koehler, Mishra, Kereluik, Shin, & Graham, 2013). This theory holds that technology does not define the actions of people. On the contrary, the actions of people shape technology in various ways. The theory has widely been used to emphasize that people must be responsible for their actions when using technology. People created technology to make work easy. However, sometimes technology can be used to harm others. This theory holds that technology cannot be blamed for harming others (Wang, 2013). Instead, the individuals who use technology wrongly to hurt others must bear the blame. The technology relies on instructions from people to enable specific events to take place. When used responsibly and with a positive mind, it leads to socio-economic development. When used with ill-intentions, then it can lead to harm and destruction. It all depends on the approach of the users.

Modernization is another important theory that is very relevant in this study. According to Kriegler (2015), the modernization theory focuses on how desirable change can best be achieved in our society. The world is changing due to some natural and human-induced changes. Modernization involves coming up with new ways of managing the changing socio-economic events. Modernization, as a concept, has been closely associated with technology. This is so because people have been using technology to create the needed changes. For instance, when the need for people to interact through trade, warfare, and other spheres emerged, technology was used to induce modernization in communication, transport, and military. Technology has been used to modernize the social and economic climate in the world. As Jensen (2015) observes, it is almost impossible to lead a modern society free of technology. Gadgets such as mobile phones, which did not exist in the world half a century ago, has become a basic gadget irrespective of one’s social status. The more society develops, the more it continues to rely on technology to solve social and economic problems.

Research Questions

When conducting research, it is important to come up with clear research questions that can guide data collection (Jackson, 2016). In this research project, questions were developed to help identify the data that should be collected from the primary and secondary sources. The following is the primary research question.

  • What is the impact of technology on the events of the 21st century?
  • The above primary question was supported by some questions, as shown below.
  • What is the role of technology in the 21st-century social environment?
  • What is the role of technology in the 21st-century economic environment?

To respond to the above research questions, it was important to collect data from various sources.

Challenges and Limitations

It is important to mention the primary challenges that the researcher faced during the period of conducting the study. One of the biggest challenges faced was the inability of the researcher to travel out of the United Arab Emirates to conduct a face-to-face interview with people who have witnessed the impact of technology firsthand on various events in the 21st century (Novotný & Portela, 2012). To overcome this challenge, the researcher relied on published sources in books, articles, and online platforms to understand these events. Primary data collection was limited to the United Arab Emirates, especially in the city of Dubai. Time was the main limitation in this case. To overcome this challenge, the researcher identified individuals who have worked in different parts of the world to participate. This was important because this document is not meant to be only relevant in the Emirati context but also at a global level. As such, it was necessary to capture global views on the issue. The use of literature also made it possible for the researcher to overcome the challenge. Books and articles published in different countries, especially in Europe and North America, were used.

Conceptual Analysis and Literature Review

Analysis

The impact of technology on the events in the twenty-first century is a topic that has attracted the attention of scholars in various parts of the world. These scholars have looked at how technology affects various aspects of life and the possible future based on technological inventions in modern society. In this section, the researcher will start by analyzing the conceptual framework relevant to this topic. Figure 1 below shows the conceptual framework that was used in this project.

Conceptual framework.
Figure 1: Conceptual framework. Source (Developed by author).

As shown in the framework above, the path towards using technology to drive change involves some stages and processes. In this case, this framework will be analyzed in reference to the use of social media in the modern-day business environment. It starts with the perceived usefulness of the technology in question. People concerned must view the new concept as being useful in a given context. Most business entities did not consider social media as being relevant in the advertisement, which explains why multinational corporations were reluctant to embrace it as a means of promoting their products and brands. Then there is the perceived ease of use. People view technology as a means of making work easy and life more enjoyable. Social media was easy to use, and at first, it was just a means of communication for youths and young adults (Scott, 2012). The perceived need is the third factor. The people targeted by the technology must need for it. In this case, the need was brought about by the desire to promote brands and products in a new platform away from the traditional mass media platform. The perception builds attitude towards technology. In this case, the initial perception that multinational corporations developed towards social media made them develop a relaxed attitude towards embracing the platform to advertise their brands and products (Russell & Arlow, 2015).

They considered this platform to be too informal to accommodate the promotion of serious brands. However, the attitude changed very fast when social media started becoming very popular in developed and developing nations. These firms realized that they could rely on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to promote awareness about their brands and products. It led to the next stage of this framework, which is the intention to use technology. At this stage, the business community had realized that social media was a force to reckon with in the business arena, and it could no longer be ignored (Edmonson, 2012). The intention to use in this case is the personal commitment that an entity makes to use technology in addressing the needs of the business. The last stage in this framework is the innovation process performance. At this stage, an individual or a business entity employs technology to address practically a given need. At first, many companies did not know how to use social media effectively to promote their products. However, this changed rapidly as innovative ideas sprung up on how to advertise on social media. Many firms are currently spending more on social media than they do on traditional platforms of advertisement such as newspapers.

Review

The impact of technology on events in the twenty-first century is a topic that has been researched from different perspectives by different scholars across the world. It is important to review the literature relevant to this topic to understand what other scholars have found and areas that need further studies. As Piketty and Goldhammer (2014) say, every piece of research should be focused on making discoveries to build on the already existing information. That is why it is important to review the literature to avoid duplication of already existing knowledge. At this stage, the researcher will look at the social and economic events and how they are influenced by technology.

Economic events

Technology has had a massive impact on various economic events in the region and all over the world. In the United Arab Emirates, technology has played a critical role in infrastructural development. The country’s rail and road system currently matches that of the developed economies thanks to the emerging technologies. These technological advances have significantly affected the city of Dubai. The city currently has the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa. It is also the home to the world’s largest human-made island, Palm Island (Davidson & Rogers, 2012). These economic achievements were made possible because of modern technologies. The city of Dubai has become a global business hub and tourist destination.

It means that the country is increasingly diversifying its economy and reducing overreliance on the oil and gas industry. These advancements are attributed to advanced technological discoveries. The city of Dubai is particularly becoming a major technological hub in the Middle East as businesses try to change their modes of operation in line with the changes brought about by the emerging technologies. For instance, e-commerce is gaining popularity in the United Arab Emirates. Customers can now purchase items without visiting brick-and-mortar stores. As long as they have gadgets, which are internet-enabled such as smartphones or personal computers, they can place their orders in the online platform, make payments, and the product is delivered to their place of liking. New businesses are emerging, which are taking full advantage of these technological developments.

According to Tucker (2012), another important economic event of the 21st century is the emergence of China as a global economic power, only second to the United States of America. China’s massive achievement is attributed to the rapid rate at which its industrial sector has embraced emerging technologies. The 2008 global economic recession that affected so many countries worldwide was partly influenced by technology (Academy of Marketing Science, 2015). Firms such as Lehman Brothers used advanced technologies to give misleading impressions of their financial positions. The consequence of such deceits was the phenomenon collapse of large firms and a decline in the economic growth of major global economies. Despite these negative impacts of emerging technologies, it is clear that the benefits far outweigh its disadvantages (Singh & Zommers, 2014). Some billionaires in the Middle East, just like the Bill Gates of the United States and Jack Ma of China, have generated their wealth from technology (Moriarty, 2017). It is a clear indication that in this century, technology is helping people uniquely generate wealth.

Social events

The social climate in the region and at the global level has also been significantly influenced by emerging technologies. The emergence of social media was a major event in the 21st century that redefined the global social environment. It improved the interconnectedness of the global community as communication was made easy. New social order emerged where people relied more on social media to learn about new things instead of using traditional mass media such as radios and newspapers. A study by Bekkevold, Bowers, and Raska (2015) reveals that cross-border marriages became common with the emergence of social media.

People could easily interact and get to know each other on social media before they can physically meet. The twenty-first century took a completely new approach because of the advancement in technology. Through technology, people can interact irrespective of their geographic location. A person in Dubai can easily interact with another person in New York through Facebook. As Baran, Kiani, and Samuel (2013) note, it became possible for the filmmakers to reach a wider audience because of the ability to use subtitles in the films. The fantasies that previously existed in people’s minds were made a reality in the 21st-century movies because of the changing technological forces.

Social interactions and cultural influence have been made possible by emerging technologies. According to Messina-Dysert and Ruether (2015), Western culture has massively influenced youths in the Middle East, especially in major cities such as Dubai. The youths in the Middle East spend a lot of time watching Western movies. The emergence of YouTube had made it easier for the youths to access their desired movies than when they had to watch these movies on television. These youths tend to admire the leading actors in these Western movies and, as such, tend to act like them. Tamminen, Webster, and Vermeulen (2012) say that this has partly led to the youths’ erosion of culture. The desire to act as some of the people they watch in these movies makes it easy for them to deviate from some of the cultural teachings that have always been passed from one generation to another for centuries. Technology is also making it possible for underage people to have access to materials that may corrupt their minds. Religious leaders have been trying to find ways of dealing with such problems. These technologies sometimes affect the academic performance of students. Spending a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube means that they have less time to concentrate on their academics.

The Timeframe of Materials Used

The topic focused on events in the 21st century, which means that it focused on a timeframe from 2001 to 2017. However, the materials used had to be very current. As such, the researcher selected books and articles that were published within the past five years. The sources used were published not earlier than in 2012. It was important to collect very recent information, just in case discoveries have been made. That is why that specific timeframe was considered appropriate.

Sources of Materials and Their Significance

According to Quinti, Visentini, and Farrugia (2014), a researcher must carefully choose materials to be used to achieve the level of success desired in the project. The school library was a very important source of the materials used in the study. Online libraries also proved to be very important. Jstor was one of the important sources of materials that were used. The scholar also relied on Google Scholar to identify quality peer-reviewed articles relevant to the study.

Leaders in the Field and Their Arguments

Other than the literature, the study had to collect information from the leaders in different fields to get their opinion about the advancements that have been witnessed in their areas of specialization because of the emerging technologies in the 21st century. Religious leaders, business people, celebrities in music and entertainment, and other opinion makers were considered a reliable source of desired information. Their arguments are important in defining the impact of technology on various events related to their profession.

Research Methodology

This section of the research project is critical because it describes the methods used in data collection and analysis. Dottin, Miller, and O’Brien (2013) say that the validity and reliability of a research report are determined by the methods used in collecting and analyzing data. The research relied on both primary and secondary sources of data to inform its findings, conclusion, and recommendations. The secondary data were obtained from books, peer-reviewed articles, and reliable online sources. These sources provided background information upon which the research was developed. These sources also helped guide the study by identifying what other scholars have found out, and areas they say need further investigation. Primary data was collected from a sample of respondents.

Sampling and Sampling Errors

The needed information had to be collected from a range of people, as mentioned in the section above. They include religious leaders, business people, and celebrities in music and entertainment, and other opinion-makers. The population of these people locally is considerably huge, and it is impossible to interview all of them. As such, it was necessary to sample a section of them. Given that there were different interest groups, stratified sampling was considered most appropriate. Stratified sampling made it possible to select individuals from these different groups in equal proportions. The possible sampling error that might have been made when selecting the participants was selection sampling error. This error occurs when only those willing to participate in the project are sampled (Smith, Imad, & Farrands, 2013). It means that those who have vital information but are not convinced of the study’s importance are left out. It leads to compromise when selecting the participants. This error might have been committed because of the limited time that was available for the study. The information collected from the sample was used to generalize the findings to the entire population.

Data Collection

Data was collected from the respondents with the help of mailed questionnaires. The researcher prepared questionnaires that were to be filled by the respondents. The questionnaires were then sent to the sampled respondents via e-mail. After filling the questionnaires, the respondents e-mailed back the forms for analysis. Fanchi (2013) argues that a face-to-face interview is one of the best ways of collecting primary data from respondents. However, this was not possible because of the irregular schedule of the respondents. After talking to the participants over the phone to understand their work schedules, it became apparent that conducting a face-to-face interview may be a challenge. As such, it was decided that the most appropriate way of collecting data from them is to e-mail the questionnaires to them. The questionnaire was designed to capture the respondents’ demographical factors to ensure that any form of bias is captured in the right space.

Quantitative and Qualitative Tools

The collected data were analyzed to respond to the research questions developed during the proposal development stage. The researcher used both qualitative and quantitative forms of data analysis. The qualitative analysis made it possible to use descriptive data to explain why certain events took place the way they did and how technology affected them differently. It enabled the researcher to explain how technology has affected various events in the 21st century and what can be done to ensure that negative impacts are eliminated while positive impacts are promoted. On the other hand, quantitative analysis enabled the researcher to determine the significance of technology’s impact on various events. It helped determine how good or bad an event was and the role played by technology in its occurrence.

Limitations

It is important to appreciate that the research had some limitations worth discussing at this stage. One of the primary limitations was time as an important factor when conducting research. The limited-time meant that data had to be collected within the city to complete it within the set deadline. The researcher had to rely on recorded sources such as books, articles, and online videos to learn more about the country’s events. The difficulty of talking with and convincing participants to take part in the study was another challenge. However, the researcher overcame the challenge by reaching out to a considerable number of participants who agreed to be part of the study.

Ethical Considerations

It was important to put into consideration ethical concerns when conducting this study. The researcher made a formal request to the specific individuals who were considered relevant to the study. The researcher explained to them that this was academic research. After sampling, the researcher assigned the respondents specific codes instead of using their names. This was done to ensure that the identity of the respondents remains protected. When selecting the participants, the researcher avoided any form of bias based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or any other demographical factors.

Result Analysis and Discussion

Analysis of Primary Data

After collecting the respondents’ primary data, the next important stage was to analyze it and come up with meaningful results that would help demonstrate the impact of technology on the 21st-century events. The analysis was primarily based on the events within the United Arab Emirates from where data was collected. The analysis focused on two main areas, economic and social events within the country in the 21st century that were directly influenced by the emerging technologies.

Economic events

The United Arab Emirates is currently a middle-income economy, with most of its citizens living above the poverty line. The city of Dubai has become the world’s focus as a strategic business hub and a major tourist destination. The researcher wanted to know if these massive economic achievements are in any way caused by emerging technologies. The researcher primarily focused on the events in the infrastructural development within the city of Dubai. When the respondents were asked about their view on this issue, they gave their answers, which were quantitatively analyzed. Figure 2 below shows their view towards the role of technology in these events.

Impact of technology on Dubai’s infrastructural development events.
Figure 2: Impact of technology on Dubai’s infrastructural development events. Source (Developed by author).

The respondents noted that indeed the city of Dubai had experienced phenomenon infrastructural development events since 2001. They stated that these developments have completely changed the city from what it used to be. 55% of the respondents stated that they strongly agree with the argument that technology has contributed to the current infrastructural developments being witnessed in the country. The nature of the roads, railways, and airports that have been built could not have been accomplished were it not for the availability of modern technologies. Unique structures such as Burj Khalifa and Palm Island are all dependent on technology. 25% also agreed with the argument technology is responsible for these massive developments.

Only about 15% of the respondents who had a contrary opinion argued that the availability of oil in the country is the primary cause of development in the country, including technological advancements. It was understood that most of them have been resisting some aspects of emerging technology, especially the use of social media among the youth, blaming it for moral erosion in the country. However, it is obvious that technology has completely transformed the economic environment of this country. Dubai currently has an infrastructural system that can be compared with the best in the world because it has been investing heavily in technology. The roads, the rails, airports, and marine transport have all been transformed using modern technology. Companies in this country are also using emerging technologies to ensure that they are competitive in their operations. They know that the only way of managing the stiff market competition is to embrace emerging technologies.

Social/religious events

In the 21st century, several religious and social events have taken place, specifically in the Arab world, causing a massive transformation in the way people live. The researcher engaged the respondents to determine their views about how emerging technologies have affected the social and religious events within this century. It was evident that religion was a point of interest to most of the interviewees. As such, it was necessary to determine the extent to which technology had influenced religion in this country. The outcome obtained from them was analyzed quantitatively, and figure 3 below demonstrates their view on this issue.

How technology has impacted religious events in the region.
Figure 3: How technology has impacted religious events in the region. Source (Developed by author).

As shown in the above statistics, a significant majority (65%) of the respondents believe that technology has had a major impact on religious events in the region. According to these respondents, a new trend is emerging in the region where youths are engaging their religious leaders wanting to know more about some of the practices that have been highly cherished for years. The emergence of terror groups in some neighboring countries has triggered many questions among the youth who want to know the truth. A new trend is also emerging where interdenominational groups gather to discuss social issues and events that affect them. Most of these engagements are done on the online platform, thanks to the emergence of social media. This completely new event is having a positive impact on society. Sometimes religious differences may breed hatred in social media, but the youth have also tried to use it to foster interdenominational unity by focusing on issues of common interest. Peres (2012) notes that technology is just but a tool, which, when used positively, can help transform society for the benefit of everyone.

Discussion

The analysis above clearly shows that technology has become a critical component of society in the 21st century. Technology is redefining how people view life. It is redefining our social and economic environments in a very significant manner. The United Arab Emirates, especially its city of Dubai, clearly demonstrates what technology can do to transform the economic events (Rosenbaum, 2015). In stable countries in the region, technology helps foster a more integrated community where race or religion is not used as a basis of stereotyping or unfairness. Social media is also creating a platform where citizens can engage their leaders on various policy issues and get their views considered. It proves that technology can facilitate a positive impact on various social and economic events if used appropriately and responsibly.

As shown in the data collected from both primary and secondary sources, technology has completely transformed the city of Dubai, both socially and economically. This city is currently one of the top global business hubs and tourist destinations, thanks to technology. The infrastructural developments witnessed in this country have made it easy to conduct trade. The movement of people and goods and communication has been made easy and cheap thanks to the government’s decision to invest in emerging technologies. The city has attracted people from all over the world who come as tourists, business people, and workers primarily because of the country’s technology-driven developments. The data analyzed above shows that we have an emerging class of very rich people in Dubai who rely on emerging technologies. These people have learned how to solve the socio-economic problems of people using technology.

It is important to remember the underpinning concept in the Social Construction of Technology Theory that technology does not define people’s actions. Technology only makes work easy. It makes it easy to get and share information. It makes it easy to move from one place to another. Technology has transformed modern warfare and many other factors (Cerone et al., 2014). However, it cannot be blamed for mistakes and crimes that people commit. It cannot be blamed for acts of terror that have been witnessed worldwide (Norrander, 2015). Technology indeed makes their work easy. However, one must understand that technology does not drive them to engage in criminal acts. Criminal events happening across the region would still be in existence even without technology.

The only difference would be the approach that these criminals take. The same case applies to modern-day hackers who use their computer technology skills to steal data from firms or government agencies for personal benefits (Freedman, 2016). Hackers are particularly causing concern among institutions in this country that rely on shared data in online platforms. These techno-savvy criminals are capable of stealing funds from an individual or organizational bank accounts, a fact that has forced banks to find a way of protecting their clients. As shown in the data collected, social media is a powerful tool, and depending on how it is used, it may have a varying effect on society. As some of the respondents noted, sometimes, this new form of communication is used by a section of the society to spread fear and hate. It shows that when used wrongly, technology may have a devastating impact on a given population.

Conclusion, Implications, and Recommendations

In the 21st century, technology is becoming increasingly important in defining social and economic events worldwide. The research conducted shows that several events that happened in the 21st century were greatly influenced by technology. The economies of countries all over the world currently rely on technology. Thanks to emerging technologies, Dubai’s economic climate is very different from what it used to be a decade ago. It has become a strategic global business hub and a major tourist destination. The social environment has also been redefined by the emerging means of communication, especially the social media that has empowered citizens. The report shows that technology has had varying impact on events in the 21st century. Dubai is currently home to the tallest building and the largest man-made island globally, thanks to emerging technology. The benefits of technology are obvious in this city, especially given that it is now one of the world’s top tourist destinations and business hubs.

Implications

Technology is proven to have a major influence on 21st-century events from social and economic perspectives. The implications of the findings concern how people should approach the use of technology in social and economic spheres. As explained in the theoretical framework discussed, society must be responsible when using technology. Technology cannot define the actions that one takes. It only makes it easy to implement plans. When used irresponsibly, technology can have a devastating impact on society. When used responsibly, it can help bring about positive transformation in economic and social spheres.

Recommendations

It is expected that, based on the findings of this study, people will start being responsible for how they handle technology. Future scholars should focus on how irresponsible use of technology can be avoided in modern society. They should address limitations in the current studies. The following are some of the recommendations that future scholars should focus on in their studies.

  • Future scholars should develop ways through which the irresponsible use of technology can be discouraged and fought by society. They can look at ways in which schools and religious centers can promote the responsible use of technology.
  • There is a need to find ways of fighting social negativity and prejudice towards a section of society using technology. They should look at how emerging technologies can unite society instead of creating or widening rifts.
  • Future scholars need to investigate how technology can be used to eliminate absolute poverty in various parts of the world. Technology can help solve problems that people living in abject poverty face, especially in the least developed countries in Asia and Africa.

References

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