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CMNS 210 Chapter Notes -Stra, Phenylalanine, Medieval Commune


Department
Communication
Course Code
CMNS 210
Professor
Stuart Poyntz

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Network Society by Darin Barney (2004)
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Efforts to conceptualize the spirit of the contemporary era is gathered under the
phrase ‘the network society’
Spirit of our age is the spirit of the network: the constitutive principles of net-
works have become the animating force of individual, social, economic and political
life, and this marks the distinction of our period in history
Manuel Castells (1996): as a historical trend, dominant functions and processes are
increasingly organized around networks. Networks constitute the new social mor-
phology of our societies, and the diffusion of networking logic substantially modi-
fies the operation and outcomes in processes of production, experience, power and
culture
Network: a structural condition whereby distinct points (nodes) are related to one
another by connections (ties) that are typically multiple, intersection and often re-
dundant; exists when many nodes (people, firms, computers) are linked to many
other nodes, usually by many ties which cross the ties connecting other nodes; de-
centralized, proliferating connectivity
Matrix metaphor: matrix derives from Latin mater (mother, womb) networks are
the womb from which a qualitatively new form of society is being born, a society in
which identity, politics and economy are structured, and operate, as networks
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What is in a name?
The power attached to naming something is considerable: to name something is to
express dominion over it, to constitute it as true
Those who seek to name an age seek to name an age seek to unify or gather its par-
ticularities, to establish the truth about it, and to exert some control over its dy-
namic forces by understanding these to the point of being able to nominate them
comprehensively and persuasively
There is considerable variation amongst these efforts (approaches can be ideologi-
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cal, sociological, historical (past, present, future), economic, political, or social)
The network society is part of the galaxy of recent attempts to capture decisively
that of which we are in the midst, and our understanding of it as a discrete concept
will benefit from considering the constellation of discourses to which it is related
most closely, both conceptually and historically
Discourses of nomination: post-industrialism, information society, post-Fordism,
postmodernism, and globalization
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Post-industrialism
Industrialism
Spawned in 18th century, matured in 19th and culminated in 20th, named economic
face of modernity
Set of productive practices which brought with them, and relied upon, a range of
social arrangements: mine and factory, urban city, class division, mass consumer
markets
Motivated by Bourgeois class liberated from constraints of feudal property rela-
tions (in capitalism)/rational egalitarianism of vanguard elite uncorrupted by self-

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Network Society by Darin Barney (2004)
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interested (in socialism)
Animated by labour of working class transformed from rural peasantry into urban
proletariat
Principle of industrialism as economic model: apply human labour (directly or
technologically) to transform basic matter into products which can be circulated
and consumed (profitably as marketable commodities in capitalism/equitably as
centrally distributed collective wealth in socialism)
Sought to perfect mechanization, rationalization and standardization of produc-
tion, increased power generation, exploitation of natural resources, organization of
national mass markets for the consumption of its output
Generated enormous economic wealth which has adorned the modern West (ineq-
uitably distributed in capitalist and socialist societies)
Post-Industrialism
Expresses transition of industrial economies and societies into an unknown future
at beginning of 1970s when welfare state accelerated its development in capitalist
countries
Several crucial dynamics combined to signal a transformation: diversion of ener-
gies
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of post-industrializing societies away from material manufacturing and towards
service provision as primary economic activity and source of wealth
Exploitation of information and knowledge as opposed to labour and capital as
crucial economic resources
Reorientation towards service industries and growth of white-collar service occu-
pation as opposed to blue-collar jobs
Basis of economic stratification is control over systemic information and
knowledge (as opposed to property relation turning on ownership of the means of
production): technocrats, managers, professional engineers, scientists replace fac-
tory and mine owners at top of social and political hierarchy, those executing me-
nial tasks of service delivery replace industrial proletariat at its bottom
Optimistic theorists (Bell): potential to overcome degrading and unjust aspects of
industrial era; more educated, leisured and engaged citizenry; levelling of econom-
ic inequality; thriving global economy, scientific advance immune to ideology; ra-
tional management of public affairs
Pessimistic theorists (Tourraine, Marcuse, Ellul): programmed, one-dimensional
society which would deepen alienation of capitalism; human life increasingly sub-
jected to domination and irrational exploitation masquerading as objectively ra-
tional technique;
differences between industrial and post-industrial society: degree not kind of dom-
ination and alienation
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empirical challenge (Cohen and Zysman, Woodward): socio-economic shift not
shift from industry to service or knowledge, but transition from one kin if industri-
al society to another

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Network Society by Darin Barney (2004)
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Information Society
1970s: energy crisis and recession in Atlantic economies
Japanese scholars developed new model ‘joho shakai’ (information society) for so-
ciety and economy which revolved specifically around the increasingly flexible
functionality of micro-computers
Model is echo of post-industrialism with sharper articulation of role of computing
technology and knowledge in abstract form of information
Japanese futurist Masuda (1981): joho shakai would replace production and circu-
lation of information values, computer at the core of information society with fun-
damental economic function of augmenting and replacing mental labour yielding
increased leisure and new information-based industries, social and political: volun-
tary
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communities, participatory democracy, generalized affluence, equality, psychic
well-being, ‘Computopia’ in which person could paint one’s own design on the in-
visible canvas of one’s future and set out to create it’;
Late 1970s: economic downturn continued, Europe and North America considered
new Japanese approach to maintain productivity and growth: Porat (1977) empiri-
cal evidence that 1970s America was already and information society, Nora and
Minc (1978) report on computization for French government
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1980: information society develops from utopian idealism into distinct revolution-
ary doctrine with 7 elemental beliefs (Dyer-Witheford (1999)):
1. world is in a state of fundamental transition/upheaval similar in kind and in-
tensity to shift from agrarian to industrial society in 19th century
2. crucial resource is knowledge/information
3. primary dynamic force in revolution/society is technology development and
diffusion
4. generation of wealth in information economy has eclipsed that of materi-
al/manufacturing economy
5. accompanying social transformation is essentially positive
6. information revolution technical, economic, social is planetary in scale
7. information revolution is not only a new phase in human civilization but also an
evolutionary step forward for life itself
(8. firm conviction that information revolution is irresistible and irreversible)
primary driver of information society is computer which became an everyday mass
appliance in 1980s
theories of information society extended theories of post-industrialism, modifying
them to reflect the rapidly expanding role played by computing and digitized infor-
mation in the mediation of increasing array of social political and economic activities
criticism: series of technologically driven dynamics which left intact and en-
trenched foundational logic, practices and relationships of liberal democratic capi-
talism truly revolutionary?; Distinction between information and industrial eco-
nomics false (computerization part of well-established industrial production re-
gimes); failure of
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revolution to redistribute political power and knowledge/reconfigure possibilities
of participation within or between societies substantially; development of new in-
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