Friday, November 30, 2007

Academic Network Conference 07 (9)

Happiness and the Family 2.0 paradigm

Are families happier today with all the new media technologies available? This is a nice question posed by Rodica Mocan (see photograph) and Stefana Racorean. Rodica Mocan is lecturer at the Media Department of Babes-Bolyi University from Cluj, Romania and her research interests are in the area new media and interactive multimedia applications and their influence on social life. Stefana Racorean is a psychologist and a psychotherapist at the Areopagus Institute of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice, Timisoara; she holds an MA in counselling and psychotherapy from Babes-Bolyai University. Together they have started to explore the influence of new information communication technologies on family life satisfaction while analyzing some of the factors that determine changes in the way we live our lives in the information age. Family 2.0 is the new paradigm of family life and the emergence of Web 2.0 type of applications is at the very core of its existence.

The rationale behind this subject is the ddevelopment of science and technologies in the past decades impacted every aspect of society, resulting in pressures to adopt or resist changes. Besides there is a shift in home-work relationships. Technologies challenges us to find new ways to perform better, faster, more productively at work and there is a redefinition of the concept of work, from producing goods or services towards concepts that include personal development, career preparation, work related communication.

Of course the definition of family has changed over the years: the family of procreation, family of orientation, family of affine relations. But the family is also “doing things together or for each other”. While a more pragmatic view of the family is: a collection of individuals who create history and a set of memories from which family experience is continually reconstructed.

The researchers distinguish two perspectives for happiness in a family: the hedonistic and the eudemonic perspective. The hedonistic perspective is described as well being, defined as the optimal functioning and experience at the psychological level, is perceived generally as mere physical pleasure; the accent is on not experiencing difficulties and not exerting effort, being relaxed and free of worries. The eudemonic perspective places the accent on actualization of human potentials and implies the effort exerted to achieve a higher level of self actualization and accomplishment.

According to Marshall McLuhan in Understanding Media: The Extension of Man, the effects of technologies are seen as an extension of the human body. The tetrad as a basis of the study of the effect of the technology: What does technology extend?; What does it make obsolete?; What is retrieved?; What does the technology turn into if it is over-extended?

The use of technologies in the home in the hedonistic view, are the acquisition of entertainment technologies (DVD, home theatre, personal gadgets, personal computers, Internet), meant to provide pleasure and relaxation; home appliances, smart home applications - meant to save time and make pleasant chores that are necessary for everyday life. In the eudemonic view technology is used for need for self development; access to information and tends to be the main motivation for acquiring technologies for children.

As a consequence, families now use technology to acquire expertise and advice that usually came through family ties. Besides technology adoption can strengthen the stereotype of the traditional roles. The parent-child relationships are challenges by role-reversal (due to the child’s more advanced skills). But there can also be stress on the family finances - race to keep up to date with tech progress

There are now typical family 2.0 type of applications such as online family tree (Amigdalia.com, MyHeritage.com); keeping track of the baby’s sleep (Trixi Tracker); family finances (networthinq.com); family sharing of memorabilia (myfamily.com, ringo.com). Web 2.0 social networks transcend local/national culture or customs and embrace common global values. Traditional skills (child rearing, cooking, homemaking) are replaced by skills acquired through other channels, powered by technology, contributing to the globalization process. There is an increased blending of home and work related activities and an impact of ICTs in communication between family members separated geographically by migration

What is the future of the family in the information age? In their first inventory, Rodica Mocan and Stefana Racorean draw some conclusions:
- The family is challenged by the technological advancements like the other social structures.
- The impacts are both positive and negative, with the potential of changes becoming overwhelming and inducing perverse, undesired effects, due to the rapid change and the difficulty of controlling technology adoption
- The family needs to reassess its role in the society and renegotiate the role of its members with regard to external pressures and changes.
- Within the global context, we are witnessing a reassessment of family values and also a reaffirmation of core values in general.
- There is reported resistance from the part of families who want to preserve the traditional family model and who take measures to limit and control the negative impact of the use of technology in the family, with more emphasis on the quality time spent together in non technology related activities.

Blog Posting Number: 937

Tags: social network, web 2.0

1 comment:

colin said...

There is a natural bias now towards checking the Web for help on almost any topic: except family and family-owned assets. we might look up a recipe: but we'll phone home for our mother's mushroom soup. After all it matters that when it's cooked it reminds us of home. Rodica' research highlights the slow break-up of communal family events and hence a shortage of shared assets for the family to protect and pass on. The reference to new technology raises the thought that we might replace those shared family memories with shared facebook and other events