What is changing in our society

Is the internet changing our society?

Regardless of whether it is a question of significantly higher telephone costs and increased consumption of nicotine while 'waiting for an answer', or if you get lost in chat sessions and prefer to feel part of the beautiful new virtual world rather than the real world, everyone who is familiar with the Internet in some way or another had to do, knows that it was different without.

In the following work I shall refer to changes that are a little more fundamental, at least more general. Changes in terms of spaces, forms of society, the social environment and positions of power. A good basic literature for me was the magazine "Ästhetik & Kommunikation", as well as various hypertexts, which I will indicate partly through links, partly in the bibliography.

Change of spaces - limits then and now

Since the beginning of organized human coexistence, societies have been defined by boundaries. Boundaries of a cultural or economic nature, as well as political and finally territorial boundaries. Society comes together through 'social closure', so also Max Weber. A social closure automatically creates social boundaries, i.e. inclusions and exclusions along with the corresponding normative and institutional mechanisms.

But nowadays, starting with global migration, global communication and much more are dissolving cultural, ethnic, religious, political and national boundaries on. In any case, sociology tends to associate civilization with the dissolution of borders. For them, an all too compact conception of society, trapped in a national framework, meets with resentment. In contrast to a multitude of socializations, which can be put together much more openly and flexibly than the national framework of society can. In short, the limits of society are related in sociology to the limits of one's own perspective.

But civilizations are defined by borders. Only that it is today around a different kind of limit acts. Social boundaries with regard to scene affiliation and lifestyle enclaves. Borders arise around new competing zones of influence, and not to be forgotten are the borders of the economic regions in order to organize communication, local actors and institutional networks. So in times of 'globalization' new border and territorialization processes necessary, especially since the increasing spatiotemporal expansion demands in the future to deal with the ambivalent relationship between the delimited space and the interactions across spaces. (see aesthetics communication)

If, on the one hand, the (social) space and its fixation are left and we are in a constant process of expanding and crossing boundaries, on the other hand there is no longer a new frontier in the (geographical) global situation, except to the global-inside.

It seems through 'globalization', ... at this point a definition is required which I borrow from Giddens 1995. In: 'Aesthetics & Communication' p.26: "Intensification of worldwide social relationships, through the distant places in such a way that events in one place are shaped by processes that take place in a (different), distant place and vice versa. "

So it seems that through the growing together of the world (beginning after the end of the East-West conflict) a new world order is required. Roughly speaking, two trends can be identified in this regard. On the one hand there is the trend towards global integration and cooperation. And on the other hand, there is a noticeable trend towards individualization and local fragmentation. More than ever, 'the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous' seems to be solidifying, the trends are not only inconsistent, they also contradict each other. We find ourselves in a highly complex dynamic upheaval.

Change of forms of society - unity of diversity

Precisely because we have entered into a borderline discussion in the broader sense, we must now try to find a form of society that has grown in line with the new borders and fits into this pattern.

It would be wrong to assume that we are developing towards a world society that will be able to live happily in a homogeneous world state according to world law. The Globalization process is not a social reality based on communityHow should this be possible, especially since we know the nation-state problems with its more or less complex population structure in order not to go into the individual differences at all.

What is needed is a form of society that is not a society of the whole world, but establishes commonalities and differences, i.e. is globally branched. A global society that on the one hand is becoming more and more homogeneous and at the same time more and more heterogeneous, in that global integration and local fragmentation can stand out equally. "The concept of global society thus serves as the designation of a unit that includes the diversity of existing societies. "(Schimany, Peter. Sociology between nation state and world society. In:‚ Ästhetik & Kommunikation '. 1998. p. 30)

The global society, which of course is subject to a dynamic process, could also be referred to as transverse socializations or one More society be.

This concept of society can of course only work if all people really become part of it, assuming that we are talking about a global society in the literal sense. As we know, this means in a time guided by technology, if not to say ruled by technology, to have access and design of information and thus to the (main) resource of our time. The demand for access to the Internet for everyone and thus to all sources of information and in all directions are at the center of the communication policy debate in the USA. (Open Access and Universal Service).

The networking of previously separate regions is also associated with the increasing visualization of global contexts. Overarching interaction structures no longer have any ethical or normative implications and in this respect one can still speak of a construct of a "world society". A broad and comprehensive citizen participation (from below) in the critical discourse is required and necessary, because everyone should get the chance to feel part of this global society, provided that one wants to be included at all.

Change in social space - cyberspace as a social movement

A new form of society, in the sense of a global society, also needs a new social environment in which it can develop. As individuals, however, we live in regions and stay in certain spaces and it should not come to the point where cyberspace replaces the real social environment, it should only offer itself as a new space of possibility.

Liberal cyberspace creates such a space. It offers an interactive communication structure by groups for groups and is supported by a broad social movement. Even if the fear of a "one-fifth - four-fifths society" (this refers to the distribution of "haves" and "have nots", which is already the hallmark of the much vaunted "information society" due to unequal access and, above all, a lack of training)) True, cyberspace is the technical expression of a movement that starts from below and is continuously supported by many local initiatives.

Cybernauts as grassroots democrats?

The structure of the new space of possibility provides the basis for a democratic culture. Based on the model of direct and permanent democracy, it is structured in such a way that it is possible to react quickly and efficiently to problems that arise. A strong, self-reliant civil society can solve problems in many areas much more easily and directly. But how can a democratic system remain stable from such individualized masses? And isn't an anarchist principle creeping in? For one, what's bad about internet anarchy? It is desirable that there is a medium that really allows all opinions and views, finally there is a space in which everyone really has the opportunity to express their point of view. And on the other hand, I believe that it is precisely through participation in practical contexts of action and the resulting obligations that bonds arise. Working together creates connections. I am of the opinion that the free Internet is self-regulating and that there is no need for institutions that believe they have to take on this task.

The fundamental trend is certainly the liberalization of cyberspace in general and of the forces and means of production, which will provide new opportunities for participation and take on global dimensions. It is also true that the concept of capital is inherent in the limitless urge to expand and that development is thus determined by global capitalism. And as is well known, the dominant North American information culture provides well-founded arguments regarding a European culture-pessimistic position.

The direction in which the use of cyberspace develops ultimately depends on the strength and direction of the social movement.

In the context of this debate, the different political arguments and strategies for the introduction of the new information and communication technologies must of course not be forgotten. The concept of America's "National Information Infrastructure" has a completely different meaning in Europe. In this context, I would like to introduce the three most important information cultures that are fundamental to the assessment of certain policy measures. These cultural backgrounds come into play, depending on whether the focus is on the economy or the individual citizen, for whom and by whom the new services are being developed, or what is the situation with regard to the need for information and the knowledge needed to obtain information.

The predominant one, especially in the USA Protestant-enlightened Information culture. It basically evaluates economic success as positive and is generally oriented towards economic liberalism. Transparency through information is the basis for every economic development and the economic area of ​​life as a whole
In the social democratic-liberal Information culture in Scandinavia derives the importance of information from the pursuit of political emancipation of the individual. The fundamental right to Information for everyone as a prerequisite for political control is central here. This information policy is legitimized for the citizens not on the basis of the actual use of the possibilities, but solely through the knowledge of them.
Finally the catholic feudalist Information culture with a strict top-down hierarchy. Knowledge / information is power. Information is only passed on in informal channels and access to it determines the position in the hierarchy system. There is no right to information. Economic success is indecent. Citizens are not used to actively searching for information.

These types of information culture no longer occur in their pure culture, of course, and yet certain regions can be distinguished from others by the dominance of one or the other information culture. (more precisely under 'Network without properties').
It is important that change must be sought in many countries (including Austria) if not only the international economy and multinational corporations are to be the beneficiaries of a global information infrastructure.