Developing Science in a Thai Context
By: Ayush Barik
What is the relationship between culture and modern technology? Technology is largely influenced by culture, and various technologies can be attributed to certain cultures. Not only that, but technology helps create its kind of culture; it also influences existing cultures. Both are very interlinked and affect each other. Hence, if this is the case, when technology spreads from more developed countries (MDCs) to less developed countries (LDCs), the effect of culture in the latter countries should be taken into consideration. Or rather yet, LDCs should be instead taught to develop these technologies in the context of their own culture.
However, this doesn’t often happen. Thailand belongs to the group modernized through the help of MDCs such that most of the technology here was not born here. This has created a lack of integration between local Thai culture and modern technology, creating an effect where Thailand loses its own culture by assimilating into other cultures. Everything in our lives, to some extent, is influenced by technology: from the food that we eat, to travel, to governance, and to how we socialize with others. So, if all this technology comes from another country, then Thailand is assimilating into a culture that is not its own. Since culture and a nation’s identity is very important, this assimilation is negative for Thailand.
It must also be noted that assimilation is not the same as acculturation, which is the mixing of culture.
Acculturation is a positive. This form of modernization has also led to alienation, as Dr. Soraj, a professor of philosophy at Chulalongkorn University, puts it. This “alienation” which he refers to is a result of imposing modern ideas in Thailand without consideration of the preexisting culture. Although this lack of integration has created the problem of heavy assimilation, other parts of the world can enjoy further development in technology.
This is because culture also influences technology.
For example, the dough kneader and roller, created by Judy Woodford Reed (also the first African-American woman to receive a US patent) in 1884 was created due to a need to make dough better and faster for bread. Bread is a big part of American culture, and if it didn’t exist, the dough kneader and roller wouldn’t have existed either. Then, the improvements in engineering that came with it wouldn’t have come either. This is only one example of many. Each country has a different culture, so if technology is created in the context of these cultures, then there could be a lot of advancements in the field of technology. This is also true for Thailand.
Ultimately, the lack of integration between local Thai culture and modern technology has created issues of assimilation, and if this lack of integration is resolved, it can also have the added benefit of enriching the world with improvements in technology.
As Dr. Soraj puts it, we must practice "growing science in Thai soil,” meaning science and technology are developed here in the context of Thai culture. This is easier said than done, and it sounds difficult; however, this is the most optimal solution that exists, that will not only solve issues but create benefits, not only for Thailand but for the rest of the world.
Hongladarom, S. (1970, January 01). Growing Science in Thai Soil: Culture and Development of Scientific and Technological Capabilities in Thailand - Soraj Hongladarom, 2004. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/097172180400900103
Signed with an 'X': Judy Reed, Improved Dough Kneader and Roller. (2021, February 11). Retrieved from https://www.ipwatchdog.com/2021/02/16/signed-x-judy-reed-improved-dough-kneader-roller/id=129915/#:~:text=Judy W.,protection on September 23, 1884.
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V.V. Krishna, R. W. (1992, January 01). The Changing Structure of Science in Developing Countries - V.V. Krishna, Roland Waast, Jacques Gaillard, 2000. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/097172180000500205?icid=int.sj-related-articles.similar-articles.6