Thursday, April 15, 2010

Techno-Nation + Commodification

This week I was particularly intrigued by Kyongwon Yoon’s article, “The Representation of Mobile Youth in the Post-Colonial Techno-Nation of Korea.” Yoon describes the rapid production and consumption of mobile media in Korea, providing an interesting and instructive discussion on science and technology as commodities: “Above all, in terms of a historical positioning, the mobile phone was represented first as a ‘technology’ and then gradually as a ‘commodity’ (Yoon, 3). Technology and scientific knowledge are all now defined as commodities that have a specific price and cultural value, and can be exchanged in the market place. According to Marx, a thing is considered a commodity when its production consumes human labor and becomes the primary focus of the community. This definition supports Korea’s notion of segyehwa (globalization) and the country’s drive to become a techno-nation. At first the mobile phone symbolizes a new age of technology; however, it quickly loses its global significance and becomes a material object – one that is “representative of the lifestyle of a consumer society” (Yoon, 3). As Yoon emphasizes at the beginning of her article, everyone carries a mobile phone; “it is deeply embedded into everyday life” (Yoon, 1). When does a technological achievement become a raw material that can be bought or sold?

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