Our Current Social Networks Essay

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The Network Society


Castells (2011, p. 4) defines network society as a society whose social structure is made up of networks that are powered by microelectronics-based information and communication technologies. Networks do constitute of the new social morphology of our societies. When you look at network society from Castells point of view then the infrastructure of the network society is determined by the relationship between technical, social, and media networks (Van Dijk, 1999, p. 128). Networks are not a new form of social organization, but they have become the key feature of social morphology. This means that they are the new forms of old processes. Networking or networks have become the way of life in the 21st century that has been embraced by all. Face-to-face interaction still remains to be the most prevalent and vital form of communication for a myriad of reasons in the network society. However, this has been supplemented by a number of technological devices and they have somehow managed to replace this form of communication. For example, the rise in the use of the mobile phone has changed the way human beings interact with each other. Social networks result in the creation of global communities that enable people to mingle and freely share information without any restriction. This is quite different from the past where information seemed to be classified. Interaction through social networks and production leads to the formation of communication networks where people can easily share information irrespective of location. The network society has resulted in the burgeoning of electronic banking, online shopping, electronic bill payment, and reshaping of the business environment. Many employees nowadays perform their work using the internet and this is due to the connectedness that exists between work systems. The social network has made workers be more efficient and this allows an organization to meet its goals quite easily.

The Good and The Bad

The network society gives an individual the freedom to choose the community they would prefer to belong to albeit virtually. This may be an enriching form of social interaction that allows for some form of commitment to the society, however, it does not require a total commitment of being a face-to-face member. With this there is no restriction in terms of location and time zones and people can interact with other likeminded people freely and without restrictions.
Communication is improved and sharing of information is now much faster. Exchange programs for universities have been made much easier and students are able to undertake courses online. This is also beneficial to the students as they do not have to travel far from their home country in order for them to take part in such exchange programs. Allowing a student to stay at their home country and undertake the course online has only been made possible by the network society. Students are able to interact like in a physical classroom and they can ask questions and have discussions with other students. Global business has been made easy and customers can shop for their favorite items at the comfort of their homes. Businesses have increased their customer bases as they are no longer limited to their physical locations only. Through internet connection and computers, a business can reach customers and offer products and services that would not have been possible in the past (Hassan, 2004, p. 10). Information sharing has been improved tremendously. People receive up-to-the-minute information the moment it happens without any delay. Information is shared through a variety of sources and this enables individuals and businesses to make more informed decisions. Communication is less restricted and people can interact with others without any constraint. It is now possible to communicate without the need for personal contact by using the global network of mass media.

While the network society is mostly viewed as a good thing in most scenarios, there is a dark side of this interconnectedness that most people fail to notice. Human beings have a need for interaction and there are many forms of interaction. However, the network society has given rise to individuals who are addicted to computers and smartphones and they have forgotten how to communicate with others face-to-face. People are more willing to interact and communicate using technology and this results in people being addicted to their devices. The limitation of this is that people are now more isolated than they were before. Social networks have become the norm for most people and they tend to….....

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Castells, M. (2011). The rise of the network society (Vol. 12). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Castells, M., & Cardoso, G. (2006). The network society: From knowledge to policy. Washington, DC: Johns Hopkins Center for Transatlantic Relations.

Hampton, K., & Wellman, B. (2001). Long distance community in the network society: Contact and support beyond Netville. American Behavioral Scientist, 45(3), 476-495.

Hassan, R. (2004). Media, politics and the network society. Berkshire, England: McGraw-Hill Education.

Van Dijk, J. A. (1999). The one-dimensional network society of Manuel Castells. New media & society, 1(1), 127-138.

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