Technology and technological revolutions invariably have an immense impact on culture, society and the lives of people. They change the nature of work and along with it they also alter traditional perceptions of how men and women are viewed – in particular they change the notions of masculinity.
Masculinity has always been associated with work and its nature. Men who provide for their family through work are seen as being masculine. In earlier times, men worked their farms or pursued artisanal work – they were their own boss, they set their own work hours and worked out of their homes. With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, this changed.
Men were forced out of traditional work because machines that were faster and more efficient displaced them. They had to work under others, in factories for fixed hours. Those who could not make the transition were left unemployed thus affecting the status and position of men in society.
Similar situation as Industrial Revolution
It is now becoming apparent that we are again facing a similar situation today. As technology advances and progresses, a lot of jobs are becoming obsolete just as it did during the Industrial revolution. This is resulting in unemployment as today’s smart machines, robots and advanced machines are taking on tasks that were being done by men so far. The sectors most affected by the new technological revolution taking place are construction, production, manufacturing, transportation – all traditionally the domain of men. Research has shown that the proportion of men in the labour force is decreasing in countries where technology is more advanced.
Consequently the displaced men have to look for jobs different from the ones they were trained for and were experienced in. But many of the jobs that exist today are in no way similar to what these men had done so far. So with a lack of relevant skills they are no longer employable – they either take lower paying jobs or sit at home with no job. Either way their ego, self image, self confidence – everything takes a severe beating. They suffer enormous trauma just as their predecessors did when they moved from homes to factories and railroads and construction jobs.
Need not be the end of masculinity
But this need not be the end of masculinity and work for men – in order to not just survive but also to do well and progress in the new technology-based world, they need to reinvent themselves, they need to change their mindset and attitudes and they need to start things that they are capable of. This has already started happening in some places. Men are going back to working out of their homes, they are using technology to set their own work hours, to choose between alternate jobs and pick ones that interest them and challenge their creativity and efficacy. Entrepreneurship will thrive in the new working order, men will take on multiple jobs; there will be greater freedom and autonomy tempered with greater risks, jobs will be more focused and specialized.
But in order for men to retain their space in the modern work-world, the economy and the government need to establish institutions and other ways and means of upgrading the skills and expertise of the older generation so that they can contribute and be relevant in the new technological advanced society. New technology is a game changer at many levels and it would make sense to include everyone as the economy progresses to a higher plane of existence.