Network society? (#whyarewedoingthis)

So, we are studying about network societies . . .

Writing blog posts and preparing for essays, while in our heads there is probably just one simple question that needs to be answered. What in God’s name is that?

Well, my fellow colleagues, today I would like to share with you one journal article. A complicated academic text, nonetheless one that might get you thinking. About what you will ask?

Up to this point, I thought I knew what a network society is. Now, doubts have been ‘planted’ in my head about its very existence. Or, at least, about its simplicity. It challenges the perspective of the Internet as the ultimate tool for social integration. On the contrary, it seems to be dividing us far more efficiently that bringing us together.

Some might argue that by proposing such ideas I am dismissing the significance of the module or even worse- ceasing your interest in it completely and irreversibly.

I aim no such thing. Instead, I challenge you to rethink your knowledge about anything to do with the word ‘network.’ For there is nothing simple about it.

To trigger your curiosity, I shall discuss the main points in favour of the argument. Was that a heavy sight? Fear not, this shall be brief.

There has been an ongoing decline in social participation, which can be interpreted differently: as a damaging tendency or a breath of fresh air for governing bodies worldwide. This marks the shift from civil society to ‘social differentiation’ (Lievrouw, 2001).

The idea of increasing ‘social differentiation’ can also be justified by looking at the way the media have treated content and audiences. Mass media have aimed to deliver ‘general-interest information’ and to serve the largest possible audience (Lievrouw, 2001, p5). New media, however, have adopted users’ demand for more subject-specific content. They have ‘conveyed a sense of distinction and identity’ (Lievrouw, 2001, p6).

Therefore, we as users are also responsible.

In our eager for a more customized environment suiting our individual interests, we began to ‘seek out our people.’ New media proved to be incredibly efficient when coming down to this. They ‘aided’ us and contributed for the process of ‘boiling down’ larger audiences. In other words: socially differentiating what has been integrated.

OK, maybe not so brief. This is academic literature, after all. Presumably, it should make you ponder over things.

Hope it did . . .





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