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W13 Lecture Notes: The Digital Transformation.docx

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CMNS 210
Stuart Poyntz

The Digital Transformation December 3, 2013 What does it mean to lead a digital life? Network society: spirit of our lives, how we live together, primary assumptions we carry, how our social, cultural, economic life has changed in the last approx.. 30 years (since 1979) Barney’s (Canadian Philosopher) Network Society: terms and ideas come together to inform and shape how we understand digital life Post-Industrialism Network Society is reflection of what used to be talked about as post-industrialism, picks up on its themes and concerns  Key people: Daniel Bell  Economic life that developed in the 1960s and 1970s o 1960s ground swell of social change and protest (civil rights, feminism, youth and young people, sexuality (gay/queer rights movement); in Canada: Quebec quiet revolution, FLQ crisis, nationalism in Anglophone Canada (EXPO 1967))  remarkable transition; o economic changes: industry is still important (mining, manufacturing, etc.), production of information becomes more central and directly productive as economic research (e.g. satellite systems -> communications systems), we live in an informationalized social world in which technology (robotics, computers, databases) increasingly attached to formed industrial centers of production)  job losses Information Society o 1970s tremendous economic uncertainty due to new economic and political order coming to the West, adaptation of computers into production process; informationalizing of ourselves: today we are now physical selves and data selves (we leave behind data trails that affect how we live our offline and online lives: social security number, postal code) o 1980s:increasing use of computers and robotics, especially in Japan, computer is replacing other technologies in our lives and configuring a new access point to efficient economic production and social and cultural experience –> changing our everyday life o doctrine of information society: in order for highly industrialized societies to develop the computer and computer literacy have to be integrated into both economic activity and everyday social life  need to informationalized the population –> best institutions to advance information society are corporations  rise of media conglomerates o neo-liberalism: significant shift in the zeitgeist (spirit of the time) about networks and markets, markets and the activity of private corporations are more important in nurturing our happiness than ever before, the drive to privilege markets and corporations in private life is a tremendous piece of what information society comes to mean and will inform what the network society comes to mean o  3 main developments: 1. Informationlizing of economic life, 2. Increasing importance of computers as part of how economic and private life operate, 3. Emphasis on markets and corporations, emphasis on private over public life as domain of happiness and fulfilment o critique of developments: put stress on public world we live in, public institutions we engage with (e.g. democracy), our greatest outlet is as consumers/buyers rather than actors/citizens Post-Fordism  documents tensions resulting from how computers are re-shaping everyday life  brings together developments from 1960s to 1980s and looks at them on a broad society level  Fordism: mass factory based productions, standardized goods, standardized production, incentivizing employees to buy own products, fair wages, organized labour movement  trade-off: selling ones labour time in standardized work process in exchange for consumerism (standardized goods for standardized work)  Post-Fordism: by early 1980s network society will be underwritten by a set of new social, cultural and economic conditions -->Regulation School  How do culture, society, economics, politics work together to define a particular area  regime of accumulation: to investigate how a society operates in an era one needs to look at the economic developments in that era doesn’t determine but operates in conjunction with  new relationship of state to economy and social life more generally, as computers change how things are made the idea of the state as a center of influencing and supporting economically countries needs to and is pulled back, corporations and private investors who act globally become more important  Fordism/industrialization (1900-1960): government/state helps people/manages society when economy fails, reason: great recession (1930s) left immense dent on private cultural and political life  state helped; Margaret Thatcher and Ronal Reagan change this: role of the state from guardian to creator and supporter of development of investment (not citizens)  E.g. Canada’s foreign policy is now entirely in the service of development of corporations, i.e. investment, not developing underdeveloped countries  new social and cultural world  Flexible production is the key for countries to remain competitive, so that they can respond to immediate changes in global trade, financing  new conditions of employment (labour flexibility: more and more companies are increasingly organized with flattened hierarchies (fewer people at the top, fewer managers, more teams of workers, more precarious: more contract, short-term, off-site work particularly for new people entering the work force, more unpaid internships), moving through jobs, connections faster;  Project of the self: shaping the self in digital life, production of personal identity, we are responsible for producing the idea of ourselves -> more stylized production  Power of brands: the way that the highly stylized forms of individuated experience in a flexible networked world can be manufactured, produced and consumed  countries, people start to talk about themselves as brands Post-Modernism  Concern for the role of images and the way
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