Network Society Effects on Time, Space, Identity


In a study by Manuel Castells (2000), the network society is what characterizes the social fabric of the information age, as practically proved by cross-cultural research. It dominates most of the global communities as observed in dynamic cultures and organizations. Social developments are structured in the interconnectedness of production, power, and experience, aspects that comprise culture.

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They are implemented, processed, and changed by social players founded on the social platform but still involving in contradictory social activities whose effects are uncertain. The social structure in the information age is characterized by dependence on networks as the main instrument of interaction. Although networks are old types of social structure, they are strengthened by information technology so that they can effectively suit decentralization and decision making. The aim of this work is to look at the integration between network structure, production, experience, power, and how this is changing our sense of space-time and identity.

Emerging changes that connote an opposition between the net and self

In a study by Barney (2004), the network society is a representation of societies that manifest two basic attributes. The first being the presence of digital technologies that aid in communication networking and information sharing. These are technologies that bring about the existing interconnection within the political, social, and economic settings. The second quality is the structuring and embodiment of institutions among those societies that network as the principal aspect of human associations within the political, social, and economic levels. This is in an attempt to blend their entities and come up with a new identity.

In a book by Manuel Castells (2000), at around the end of the 20th century, several historical incidences began to change the social backdrop of humanity. A technological transformation revolving around information technologies started to redesign at a rapid speed, the fabric of the society. The global economy has become interconnected introducing a new form of connection among economy, state, and society in a structure of diverse patterns.

Capitalism has also undergone a great change in management, devolution, and networking of organizations, both within themselves and with other organizations decrease in labor initiative, varied ways of professional interactions, large scale inclusion of women into the labor force, selective state intervention to control markets, advanced global economic rivalry among other changes.

As a result of this general restructuring of capitalism, other witnessed changes include a global amalgamation of financial markets, the emergence of Asia Pacific as a worldwide distinct production point, the economic solidarity of Europe, the rise of the economy within the North American region, the variedness and crumbling of the earlier third world, the slow change of Russia in market economies, among other trends.

Due to these trends, there has been irregular development experienced not only in the North and south but also in other parts of the world. Such varying forms of development are what give nations different economic identities when viewed by other nations. At the same time, crime-related acts have also become worldwide and informational, alongside other illegal forms of trade ranging from intricate weaponry to the human being’s flesh. This also makes a nation due to specific groups of individuals or just individuals to be identified as terroristic, politically unstable, and hence unsafe for either residing or investing in.

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Moreover, a new communication scheme, through a worldwide digital language is increasing the manufacture and distribution of words, sounds, and images of our society and tailor-making them to suit the tastes, dispositions, and identities of people. Social Networking Sites are allowing active interaction among individuals while creating new ways of communication that enable people to not only shape life but also to be shaped by life.

The network society effect on gender and political identity

The changes have not only affected the economic and technological aspects, but also the social realm. For all the challenges in the process of changing women’s situation, patriarchalism has been assaulted several and has been dazed in many places. Thus gender interactions have become a platform of rivalry rather than a domain of artistic reproduction. A foundational redefinition of ladies, gentlemen, and children has occurred resulting in the same in character, sexuality, and relations.

Environmental enlightenment has diffused to various institutions of life with its values attracting political attention though at the expense of being duped and manipulated in the customary practice of bureaucratic organizations. Political structures are drawn into legitimate crises, frequently attacked by scandals, basically reliant on media reporting and tailored leadership, and progressively more alienated from its citizens.

Destructured social societies trigger people to look for a new identity

Social organizations on the other hand tend to be myopically centered, divided, local-oriented, either too withdrawn or seeking a lot of media attention. In such a world where there is uncontrolled transformation, people tend to find solace in principal identities that are religious, cultural, protective and nationalized in nature. Religious doctrinalism is probably the strongest force that enhances individual security and corporate mobilization of its followers in times of distress.

In a society where there is a distribution of images, authority, and riches, the search for identity, either personally or communally becomes the main source of social relevance. Although religious and ethnic identity is as old as mankind, identity is still the chief source of significance in a world where we have a diminishing of social institutions, deformation of organizations, and short-lived civilizing expressions. People mainly derive their meaning from either what they think they are or what they are.

Their meaning is not based on what they do. On the other hand, worldwide networks selectively change on and off persons, groups, and nations according to their significance in meeting the objectives of the network. There thus exists a partition between intangible, universal applications and particular historically founded identities. This makes people to be opposed between the net and self. This is because the information provided by networking makes them forget who they are and changes their actions. This brings a shift in what ought to determine their identity.

When it becomes impossible for communication to continue, social groups and persons separate from one another, start seeing the other as a foreigner, and finally as a menace. In this respect, social divisions intensify making it difficult to share identities. The informational world is also associated with both inter-religious and inter-ethnic genocides. Such genocides can very easily lead to the wiping out of a given nationality or ethnic group leading to a loss in their identity.

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How time and space are reshaped in the network society

In a study by Manuel Castells (1999), the network society is characterized by two significant social aspects of time and space. These exist together with the preceding types of time and space. The first one is a timeless time. In contrast to the normal biological time that is featured among human beings, and the clock time featuring in the industrial era, timeless time is described by the use of information and communication gadgets in a persistent attempt to obliterate time.

On one part, time is condensed like in instant word-wide economic dealings, and on the other part, it is spread out in a randomized progression such as the past, current, and upcoming aspects. The other social aspect is the space of flows. This refers to the use of both technology and organization to make social practices take place at the same time without necessarily being in the same geographical location. Most of the social activities such as business transactions, media coordination, and international assembly networks are operating through the use of space of flows. This also applies to other social practices such as social organizations and interpersonal social communication networks.

For the space of time to operate, it requires the use of a territorial element that passes through certain places as it connects functions and individuals found in different places. Yet, the sense and operation of the space of flows depend on the flows progressed inside the networks, as opposed to the space of places within which there is a close connection between location, purpose, and function.

Works cited

Barney, D., 2004. The Network Society. Cambridge: United Kingdom: Polity Press.

Castells, M., 1999. Materials for an exploratory theory of the Network society. Web.

Castells, M., 2000. The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. The Rise of the Network Society. NY: Blackwell Publishing Limited.

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