Network Society - Digital Culture and Transculturality

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Wan HJ IBRAHIM
Student (MBA), Australia

Network Society - Digital Culture and Transculturality

🔥NEW There is a correlation between culture, knowledge and the role of ICTs. These lead to an approach that allows us to connect the complex concept of cultures with its impact on various spheres of our respective lives and therefore, on our identity. Hence, the term "digital culture" is used to describe the model of mutual influence between culture and technology.


How can culture be defined? It could be understood to be an equally artefact-based concept, which is not a means to an end but rather an end in itself. That is to say, it is not in itself an essential of life but rather something that represents a human desire. Culture is not only the result of a process but also this very process as it moves toward the goal. Hence, culture is a characteristic of goal-oriented actions.

Welsch (1999) developed a new approach of connected cultures, which he called transculturality. This approach emerged due to cultures being interconnected and similar lifestyles merging and being assimilated. Cultures cannot be perceived as homogenous units anymore because they are complex and diverse in themselves. According to Welsch (1999), "Cultures today are extremely interconnected and entangled with each other. Lifestyles no longer end at the borders of national cultures, but go beyond these, are found in the same way in other cultures. The way of life for an economist, an academic or a journalist is no longer German or French, but rather European or global in tone".

Pursuing this further, Castells (2001b, p.3) observed that people want to belong to a certain group and want to be identified as a member of such a group. They do not want to constantly act, think and live on a global level. The identity of the self cannot exist only on a global level and therefore, "the search for identity, collective or individual, ascribed or constructed, becomes the fundamental source of social meaning. (…) Yet identity is becoming the main and sometimes the only source of meaning in a historical period characterized by widespread destructuring of organisations, delegitimation of institutions, fading away of major social movements and ephemeral cultural expressions".

Meanwhile, Technology is often considered as just a means to a particular end, the means being artificially created, not natural, and something that is not directly necessary for the individual or the end user; it serves, rather, to fulfill the need to produce something that is later to be consumed. In developed countries, Internet access has become a ubiquitous utility like gas or electricity. The internet has advanced to become a communication tool that coexists with other established communication devices such as telephone, short messaging service (SMS), new media and face-to-face interaction. E-mail, instant messaging, online chats and other online applications are now instrumental in establishing and maintaining social ties with friends, colleagues, family and other peers. Hence, this creates a private "portfolio of sociability" (Castells, 2001a, p.132).

According to Castells (1997, 1998, 2001a), Information Communication and Technologies (ICTs) have produced a network society in which mobilizing knowledge and information have become more important than mobilizing physical resources. He argued that both organizations and individuals can benefit from electronic networks. They support the development and dissemination of knowledge and information and facilitate innovation. Castells warns that these changes are accompanied by growing wealth disparities, social fragmentation and dislocation. Governments are addressing these concerns, in part by financially supporting the creation of community networks with broad accesibility. Locally, these new opportunities are often communicated through the chamber of commerce and other economic development agencies to mobilize or inspire stakeholders into action. The lack of access to ICTs does not only lead to exclusion from the new technologies but also to exclusion from the new knowledge economy (Castells, 2000).

The relationship between culture and technology is important. Cultural dimensions have to be incorporated into a model that transfers the spread and usage of technology on the one hand and the social shaping of technology on the other. The concept of digital culture represents a framework that embraces the techno-cultural dimensions of content, distribution, and context. This framework provides an applicable instrument that allows addressing important questions in the context of technology and society, such as equal knowledge distribution, provision of capabilities, and social inclusion.

References:
  1. Castells, M. 1997. The information age: Economy, society and culture. Vol. 2, The power of identity: Oxford: Blackwell.
  2. Castells, M. 1998. The information age: Economy, society and culture. Vol. 3, End of millennium: Oxford: Blackwell.
  3. Castells, M. 2000. The rise of the network society. Oxford: Blackwell.
  4. Castells, M. 2001a. The Internet galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, business, and society: Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  5. Castells, M. 2001b. The information age: Economy, society and culture. Vol. 1, The rise of the network society: Oxford: Blackwell.
  6. Welsch, W. 1999. Transculturality—The puzzling form of cultures today. In M. Featherstone, & S. Lash (Eds.), Spaces of culture: City, nation, world (pp.194-213). London: Sage.

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