Network society

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The term Network Society was coined by Jan van Dijk in his Dutch book De Netwerkmaatschappij (1991) (The Network Society) (1999, 2006), and by Manuel Castells in The Network Society, the first part of his trilogy The Information Age (1996). In 1978 James Martin used the related term 'The Wired Society' indicating a society that is connected by mass- and telecommunication networks. Barry Wellman and the team of Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff also have done work on the concept of network society.

Van Dijk defines the network society as a society in which a combination of social and media networks shapes its prime mode of organization and most important structures at all levels (individual, organizational and societal). He compares this type of society to a mass society that is shaped by groups, organizations and communities ('masses') organized in physical co-presence.


[edit] Barry Wellman and Hiltz-Turoff Explore The Network Society Concept

Wellman has studied the network society as a sociologist at the University of Toronto. His first formal work was in 1973, "The Network City" with a more comprehensive theoretical statement in 1988. Since his 1979 "The Community Question", Wellman has argued that societies at any scale are best seen as networks (and "networks of networks") rather than as bounded groups in hierarchical structures.[1] More recently, Wellman has contributed to the theory of social network analysis with an emphasis on individualized networks, also known as "networked individualism".[2] In his studies, Wellman focuses on three main points of the network society: community, work and organizations. He states that with recent technological advances an individual's community can be socially and spatially diversified. Organizations can also benefit from the expansion of networks in that having ties with members of different organizations can help with specific issues.

In 1978, Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff's The Network Nation explicitly built on Wellman's community analysis, taking the book's title from Craven and Wellman's "The Network City". The book argued that computer supported communication could transform society. It was remarkably prescient, as it was written well before the advent of the Internet. Turoff and Hiltz were the progenitors of an early computer supported communication system, called EIES.[3] llll Roxanne and Murray Turoff got married in 1978.

[edit] Manuel Castells and The Network Society

According to Castells, networks constitute the new social morphology of our societies.[4] When interviewed by Harry Kreisler from the University of California Berkeley, Castells said "...the definition, if you wish, in concrete terms of a network society is a society where the key social structures and activities are organized around electronically processed information networks. So it's not just about networks or social networks, because social networks have been very old forms of social organization. It's about social networks which process and manage information and are using micro-electronic based technologies."[5] The diffusion of a networking logic substantially modifies the operation and outcomes in processes of production, experience, power, and culture. For Castells, networks have become the basic units of modern society. Van Dijk does not go that far; for him these units still are individuals, groups, organizations and communities, though they may increasingly be linked by networks.

The network society goes further than the information society that is often proclaimed. Castells argues that it is not purely the technology that defines modern societies, but also cultural, economical and political factors that make up the network society. Influences such as religion, cultural upbringing, political organizations, and social status all shape the network society. Societies are shaped by these factors in many ways. These influences can either raise or hinder these societies. For van Dijk, information forms the substance of contemporary society, while networks shape the organizational forms and (infra)structures of this society.

The Space of Flows plays a central role in Castells' vision of the network society. It is a network of communications, defined by hubs where these networks crisscross. Élites in cities are not attached to a particular locality but to the space of flows.

Castells puts great importance on the networks and argues that the real power is to be found within the networks rather than confined in global cities. This contrasts with other theorists who rank cities hierarchically.

[edit] Jan van Dijk and The Network Society

Van Dijk has defined the idea "network society" as a form of society increasingly organizing its relationships in media networks gradually replacing or complementing the social networks of face-to-face communication. Personal communication is replaced by digital technology. This means that social and media networks are shaping the prime mode of organization and most important structures of modern society.[6]

Van Dijk's The Network Society describes what the network society is and what it might be like in the future. The first conclusion of this book is that modern society is in a process of becoming a network society. This means that on the internet interpersonal, organizational, and mass communication come together. People become linked to one another and have access to information and communication with one another constantly. Using the internet brings the “whole world” into homes and work places. Also, when media like the internet becomes even more advanced it will gradually appear as “normal media” in the first decade of the twentieth-first century as it becomes used by larger sections of the population and by vested interests in the economy, politics and culture. It asserts that paper means of communication will become out of date, with newspapers and letters becoming ancient forms for spreading information.[6]

[edit] Network Society in modern life

The concepts described by Jan van Dijk, Barry Wellman, Hiltz-Turoff and Manuel Castells can be seen throughout modern technology. Web sites such as 'Facebook' and 'MySpace' are prime examples of Network Society at work. These sites allow people all over the world to communicate through digital means without face to face contact. Other means include instant messenger servers, such as AIM and IChat, and email servers, including Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, and many others. All of these web services provide means for people to communicate without personal contact. This demonstrates how the ideas of society changing will affect the persons we communicate over time.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Craven, Paul, and Barry Wellman. 1973. "The Network City." Sociological Inquiry 43:57-88; Wellman, Barry. 1988. "Structural Analysis: From Method and Metaphor to Theory and Substance." Pp. 19-61 in Social Structures: A Network Approach, edited by Barry Wellman and S.D. Berkowitz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Wellman, Barry. 1979: "The Community Question: The Intimate Networks of East Yorkers." American Journal of Sociology 84 (March): 1201-31.
  2. ^ Wellman, Barry "Physical Place and Cyber Place," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 2001.
  3. ^ Hiltz, S. Roxanne and Murray Turoff. 1978. The Network Nation. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
  4. ^,M1
  5. ^ "Conversation with Manuel Castells, p. 4 of 6". Retrieved on 2008-10-06. 
  6. ^ a b ICT. "B. Book Summary". Retrieved on 2008-10-06. 

[edit] Wikibooks

[edit] External links

  1. The Network Society on Googlebooks
  2. Interview with Manuel Castells
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