Technology, Consciousness, and the Transitional Symbolic Self: Implications for Social Work Education

Document Type


SoTL Category

Technology and Media

SoTL Discipline


Publication Date



A growing body of literature is focused on hypertechnology in curriculum and culture. This article contributes to that literature. Taking the perspective of social work education that human reality emerges from the interaction of biological, psychological, and socio-cultural forces, the reader is invited to consider the possibility that in this generation of students we may be experiencing an historic shift in consciousness and a genuine intellectual rift between the generations. If, as is suggested by important segments of the literature, styles of symbolic self-consciousness are formed and contoured by evolving communications technology, we might expect that a reading-based style of symbolic self-consciousness will differ significantly from a style of self-consciousness formed by the rapid dissemination of visual images. This hypothesis suggests that we are currently in a transitional state, as we shift from one style of consciousness to another. Some implications for teaching in this time of transition (and points for further reflection) are explored.


This article was published in Journal of Teaching in Social Work. Vol. 32, Number 4 (2012).