Technology As Magic: The Triumph Of The Irrational

Richard Stivers

At first glance, technology and magic would seem to be polar opposites. Technology is perceived to be rational, scientific, and efficacious, whereas magic is thought to be irrational, superstitious, and ineffective. In this enlightening book, professor of sociology Richard Stivers shows how technology and magic, while separate and distinct, are now related to one another in such a way that each has come to take on important characteristics of the other. His argument is that our expectations for technology have become magical to the point that they have generated a multitude of imitation technologies that function as magical practices. These imitation technologies flourish in the fields of psychology, management (or administration), and the mass media, and their paramount purpose is human adjustment and control. Advertising and television programs, in particular, contain the key magical rituals of our technological civilization. Through dramatized information, they symbolically connect consumer goods and services to desired outcomes -- the utopian goals of success, happiness, and health -- thus enveloping technology, both real and imitation, in a magical cocoon.

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